The other night I hiked out to Hut Point (where one of Scott's huts is preserved as a historical site) on the ridge trail. There are beautiful views to the north and along the edges of Ross Island but the main thing that struck me was that at the top of every hill crest was another memorial to someone who had died here. There are a lot of crossess and memorials in the McMurdo area.
It is a sobering reminder that we are existing here on the very edge of possibility - this is not a place kind to unprotected humans. I'm also reminded of this truth when I leave my glove off for a few moments to take a picture and the wind hits it full on, making my skin prickle painfully. Only with the extensive planning and support of thousands of people, buildings, power plants, vehicles of all sorts, giant amounts of fuel and cargo, and a great focus on making conservative safety decisions every hour of every day, can we exist here at all. Sitting in my heated office, tapping away on my computer keys, it is very easy to forget what an accomplishment it is for people to be investigating our questions here in Antarctica.
An historic quote shared by the meteorologists the other night suddenly seems very appropriate: Below the 40th ltitude south, there is no law. Below the 50th, no God. And below the 60th, no common sense. And below the 70th, no intelligence whatsoever. - Kim Stanley Robinson