Izzy Boettcher, Dartmouth University
“Good morning, beautiful nerds.” Allen’s voice rings clear, and full of excitement. The clatter of eating utensils, the hum of sleepy conversation, and the overall organized chaos that is each morning on the Icefield quickly fades and is replaced with an attentive silence. We sluggishly turn in our seats towards the back wall. A room of mildly caffeinated eyes focus on Allen, the academic lead, and the “Plan of the Day” white board that (tentatively) organizes each day. I’ve come to learn that life on the Icefield is highly dependent upon factors that we can’t always foresee — weather, snowmobile functionality, a Pilot Bread famine, etc. — and thus our “plans” are always subject to change.
“07:30 wake up — check,” Allen begins, ticking off the tasks we have already completed. “08:00 breakfast — check.” He continues down the list, asking for daily chore volunteers, summarizing the day’s fieldwork outings, and concluding with the routine, “20:15 lecture” and “23:00 lights out.” At this point, the morning lull diminishes — fast replaced by the characteristic buzz of curious students energized by the day’s possible adventures. Will we test the skills we learned during safety training and practice crevasse rescue? Will we snowmobile across the Taku marking a new GPS profile? Or will we strap a shovel to our pack and dig a mass balance snow pit? Our minds race as we eagerly consider our options. We all ultimately know that we can’t really go wrong, no matter our final decision. Each option guarantees unparalleled scenery, good company, and new accomplishments, calamities, and understandings that will soon be relayed when we reconvene for dinner. On this day, I decide to tag along with mass balance, and quickly finish my breakfast as others continue to brainstorm.
“Hey, hey.” Mike, our camp manager’s voice cuts through the building volume. We pause our planning efforts to refocus our attention. “You ready?” he asks us. We grin, and nod our heads — we all know what’s coming. This moment is perhaps the last truly predictable part of each day. For although each morning begins with the same routine, each day holds something different. “Okay,” Mike says, bringing his hands in front of him and hovering his palms a few inches apart. We mimic his motions and anticipate the countdown. “3, 2, 1” he starts. And on “break,” 54 pairs of hands clap in unison, queuing both the mad rush of hungry JIRPers hoping for a second helping of oatmeal and SPAM, and the start of another day at Camp 10.