Friday, December 07, 2007

Lake Fryxell and Glacier Berries

We made it to Lake Fryxell yesterday! (see the snow/ice covered patch in valley basin below) I sampled the moat for pH, DOC, metals, and major ions, all indicators of the geochemical-ecological processes occuring in the Lake. The breeze, an icy breath from the Ross Sea, was persistent, so we ate and drank constantly (drinking water frequently is really important to staying warm, more so than eating as your body requires water to regulate its temperature).
To get there, we hiked up the western margin of Canada Glacier, a feat that required stablizers to handle the refrozen snow. Stabilizers are like strap on sandals that have screws sticking out the bottom to minimize slipping. The don't have front points like crampons and can only handle minimal changes in topography. Without them, you would slide not so gracefully into the side of the glacier like a lost seal trying to find its way back to the sea... Once we were parallel with the base of the icefall, we crossed the glacier across a flagged route (we crossed this way, because the GA, Matt, had not used crampons before and this is the approved route for non-glacier crews using stabilizers).

My flat friends waddled slowly behind us, wading up to their bellies in the high amount of snow that has fallen this spring/summer. (Normally, the Taylor Valley averages around 10 cm/yr of snow- but it looks as though at least that has fallen in the past month).
Here is our view on the east side of the glacier, before we headed down to the lake.
At the end of the day, we had a nice cup of tea from the melt of glacier berries (above in the crate, and below along the margin of the glacier). Until Lake Hoare moats opens up, glacier berries are the preferred source of drinking water. Also, Lake Hoare is the only 'freshwater' lake that we can drink from in the valleys. The rest are quite salty including the magnesium-rich lake mistakenly savored by early valley researchers that was aptly named Lake Chad.

1 comment:

Becki said...

Nice picture of the Witherow Ice Falls!