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Day one and two — Solar power and camp setup

Published: at 12:02 AM

For our friends and family worried about us back home reading this, we’re safe and snuggled in on the second night of our second day. We were also safe in our tents on night one, FYI. We’ve hauled cargo, we’ve built five berthing tents, a mess tent, a work tent, a toilet tent, a kitchen setup, we’ve buried 20 lithium batteries, arranged 16 solar panels, and at this point I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re very tired. But in good spirits! Currently, thanks to some beautiful but very cold days we’re operating entirely by the power of the sun. Today we maxed out at almost 2000 watts for our camp setup alone and nearly 3500 watts for the science platform. We should make even more when we have the panels fully installed. Tonight’s dinner was a Thai coconut curry with chickpeas, black rice, and an assortment of vegetables. We’ve melted nearly 15 gallons in our electric boiler.

A photo of the install team in front of the tents and camp setup during blue skies

A birds eye view of the ICECAPS-MELT installation camp May 2nd after lunch. The solar panels will be installed vertically in the coming days.

It’s a surreal thing to be building such a large installation here. It would also be dishonest to say work has been easy. Yesterday we landed at 10:30, toted our cargo some miles, unpacked nearly all of it, then snacked and worked until nearly 11:30 PM. I won’t say exactly how late it was by the time we had real food and were totally ready for bed. It was a pretty grueling day that ended with us huddled in the tent at below -30C and we all agree we prefer not to repeat it. Although it’s a huge benefit to have completed all the most important initial tasks.

Digging a trench for the lithium battery bank that will power the renewable system

Andrew digs the trench for the battery bank that will power the renewable system while Cat prepares the batteries.

I asked Cat what I should write about to say we’ve had some initial success and she said I should probably explain why I’m doing this, or why it’s important to me. Explain why I would freeze fingers and toes and sunburn my nose and put so much effort in for a project? It has been about twelve years since I imagined doing this exact thing. It’s the idea that put the wind into my sails and sent me this direction. It has also blown wind in my face, quite literally. The journey hasn’t been smooth at all up to this point and in the last year there were many points that made us all consider a different tack. But here we are anyway seeing it through. It’s kind of hard for any of us to explain how that happened. Me least of all I think.

The team in the mess tent eating their dinner at the end of the second day

The group eats a hot dinner at a reasonable hour with a lot of smiling faces.

Anyway. I hope that the rest of our work here goes so smoothly. I wonder if we’ll see the first melt event before we leave our freshly installed station behind. I wonder if it will survive until August. The exciting thing is that there’s only one way to find out. But first I have to stop typing, my fingers are too cold now that the sun has set.