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2011 (old posts, page 1)

A-Basin Patrol

This was originally going to be largely just a photo dump from my time on A-Basin Ski Patrol that I was going to automatically post sometime while I was out and about, but one of the pros died so I'm going to post this early.

And, not just one of the pros, but it was Leif who probably exemplified best what I love about working on ski patrol.

Ski patrol usually involves amazing places. (Remember click to view bigger!)

Interesting and amazing people.

But, not all of those people only have two legs.

And, the teamwork that the groups display between patrollers of whatever number of legs is astonishing.

That teamwork makes it possible to make amazing things happen.

(This photo is explained by the following video)

I was going to finish off this post with this nice lighthearted pic, but I need one more after it.

This last photo is of Leif and other members of patrol receiving awards from the National Ski Patrol recognizing the care that Leif and co. provided to a racer saving his life.

RSRD buddy

Full Moon over Puerto Williams

A bunch of stuff has happened over the last couple of days. It was the full moon, and there was also supposed to be an aurora. However, it was cloudy that night, but the night before had a nice moon.

We also had what Chad might call 'a shiny' tie up to the Micalvi.

And, tonight ranks up there as one of the best ever walks to throw trash in the dumpster.

In project land, Ocean Tramp is continuing to sit higher in the water as more stuff gets yanked out despite more food getting thrown in. The tree ring counting stage works, and I've scanned and Google translated a journal of Gasperi's travels through the Patagonian fjords.

In other news we also have two new crew members!


We are currently in somewhat of a cleaning mode trying to wash and making sure that everything we are bringing is relatively clean. This is rather than being relatively grimy after Ocean Tramp's last couple of trips.

Also our internet connection is relatively flakey, but we don't have our Iridium phone setup yet.  So updates might be flakey, but I should be getting out in the fjords this week!

Boat Stuff Done

A couple of days ago we hoisted the sails on Ocean Tramp.

I also took a different hike than last time and got a bunch of images. I'm trying something new here, so let me know how well it displays.

Getting Stuff Done

Yesterday we spent the day outside getting the anchors organized and scrubbing the bottom of Gondwana some. We were planning on trying to put the sails up on Ocean Tramp today, but higher winds and some sleet have made that not an option.

So I'm working on a couple of our computer projects instead.

Right now I have 4 different computers around me for working on a couple different projects.

On the computer directly behind the energy supply system you can see two of the projects. One is generating Digital Elevation Models from aerial photography and ASTER data, and the other (the small window on top) is tracking weather satellites and attempting to download imagery when they come within range.

On my computer to the right I'm working on finding out how to do the DEM stuff, but more importantly researching long distance wireless links and current technology. There are a couple of cool projects, but very little data about hardware that they are using.

    <li><a title="The Tegola Project" href="">The Tegola Project</a> - University of Edinburgh</li>
    <li><a title="TIER" href="">Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions</a> - UC Berkeley</li>

    A video from the Tegola Project:


    Just a couple of pictures from sunset last night.

    Sunset over the Dientes de Navarino

    Sunset over Ocean Tramp's bow

    Sunset over Ocean Tramp and Gondwana

    Sunset over Micalvi

    In boat news there are relatively few boats here right now. Seal has taken off, but Pelagic Australis has shown up. The word on deck though is that they managed to bump an ice flow with their prop, and now the whole thing is bent out of line.

    In other news there was also a full moon.

    Geological Hijinks in Argentina

    The first in a series of back posts that I'm working on, so this will spend a bit of time on the front page of my site, and then eventually a lightning bolt will strike the clock tower, just as my website hits 88 miles per hour and it will get transported back in time!

    February 2010 found me headed down to Argentina for a month of exploring with my geology class. Many things were discovered down there, and not all of them were about rocks!


    We flew from Colorado Springs to Dallas to Santiago and on into Córdoba before piling into as few cabs as possible, so that we could hopefully get a spanish speaker per car, but that didn't always happen. Then we pretty much took over a hostel before exploring the city and becoming dismayed that it was too late for lunch, but way, way too early for dinner. But we survived and started driving.


    We had booked ahead with one campground that turned out to change how we booked and chose campgrounds in the future! It was nice and conveniently in the center of the town of Villa Carlos Paz, which also make it convenient for everyone and everything to wander through. Suffice to say it was a dump, but a rather memorable dump. One night someone had an asado for us with a crucified sheep over a trash fire (or at least I believe it was a sheep, it might have been a goat though). Whatever the meat was it was enough to convert one of our vegetarians back to the sane side of food. Later that night I discovered that unknown type of meat + several liters of beer + one kilogram of ice cream ? happy Alex stomach. Suffice to say I spent the night sitting on top of a dam trying to decide if it was safe to go to bed or if I would have to go running. We did manage to find some geology in the town as it was right on the Eastern edge of the Sierra Pampeanas.


    We then found some pointy things and did some geology around them.


    After a couple of days we headed up and over the Sierra Pampeanas Grandes and past Los Gigantes.



    Yes, we did have an eight car caravan, and, yes. we were flogging small Chevy wagons with 5 people and gear in them over a mountain range. Three of the cars were filled with students from Purdue though, so it's not our fault.



    Possibly my favorite roads of the trip, and I didn't get to drive.


    Probably our best group photo from the trip.

    Eventually we made it down, and we found one of Megan's seismic stations in Taupo Volcanic Field.


    We pondered.


    We walked.


    We drove down a rather steep cliff and made hand motions trying to describe stuff when words failed us at Los Tunneles.


    At this point we found ourselves at Talampaya National Park where we got the first official tour of the season which caused some vehicle extraction practice (not ours, but park vehicles). Here we found what was probably the strangest feature we found the entire trip.


    I brought my mind to a saner place and took a ton of photos of a tree instead, but I'll be nice and only show one.


    Tim and Hayden did some bouldering...


    ... while Eric was attacked by a sand monster.


    Soon we found ourselves leaving the Purdue students and on our way through Jackal and San Jóse de Huaco. We found ourselves spending the night in a quiet little campsite (we were the only ones there) in a small little canyon. One of the dogs adopted Jennie and me.


    The dog and one of his buddies spent the night sleeping in my vestibule which would have been fine any other night but this one for it was February 27th. And at 3:34 local time on February 27th Chile was hit by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake. I woke up to the dogs absolutely freaking out right next to my head. I was sleeping on a several inch thick pad, and I was tired enough that I didn't notice the shaking. Therefore, I stayed awake long enough to ascertain that neither of the dogs were coming into my tent with me (and wrecking my tent in the process), and I fell back asleep. I might not have managed that if I felt the shaking and knew what we were sleeping downstream of, but I should have known what the answer to one of those was.


    Narrow canyons don't just exist on their own, they need some reason to be there. Usually that reason turns out to be a powerful river downcutting through resistant rock, or some other change in river dynamics. But, there was only a small creek running next to the campsite where there should have been much more water, so we should have realized that there was something holding the water back upstream. Something like a beat up old dam right on an old fault plane. Instead of that I'm going to show a picture of the dam intentionally draining.


    A bit more traveling brought us to an monocline-ish feature, but the people who rode in might have been more interesting. They were part of a group riding motorcycles around the world, and they were about 8 years in at this point.


    At this distraction I had a hard time regaining my focus and instead took a picture of my sandals that I wore everywhere. I did bring shoes on the trip but I didn't wear them enough, causing them to migrate down to the bottom of the pile of gear in the trunk and the heel support was crushed.


    Then we found some curvy layers.


    And finally a sign that even I could translate.


    So we climbed it.


    After a bit we ended in Rodeo which is the Argentinian windsurfing and kiteboarding capital due to a large lake that gets sustained high winds from large gently sloping headlands nearby.Unfortunately I didn't get to go kiting as it was the wrong season, and we just had to cook stuff.


    Tom playing with one of his favorite things, fire.


    After a night we wandered on down to Barreal where we spent several nights in cabins for the first time during the trip. During the days we did some more driving.


    And some more hiking, where Dave might have gotten a girlfriend.


    And then more lighting food on fire.

    _DSC3364 - Version 2.jpg

    We then wandered on down to Uspallata and then to Mendoza for a couple of nights. We were originally planning on a slightly different order, but we though it would be a good idea to get to Mendoza and make sure our flights were all set.  We would be flying though Santiago, and we had heard that the airport had significant damage! In the end I believe that we ended up going a day later than originally planned.

    Anyways we headed back up the road towards Uspallata and along to Puente del Inca where I saw one of my favorite land vehicles.


    And then we we hiked up Aconcagua.




    Robert got his first good encounter with the topic of his thesis.


    And Eric settled into his natural element.


    Megan found something of interest too.


    Most people started wandering down the hill, but I didn't leave before Tom showed up and tried to blend in with the natives.


    And then for some of us, that was all she wrote.


    At Santiago airport we found that there was significant structural damage to the international terminal, so they decided to place international flights in the domestic terminal and place the domestic flights in tents. But, we managed to make it back to the states all in one piece.

    Micalvi Bar

    Actually make that aftereffects of the Micalvi bar.

    On Saturday a French vessel came in, and they invited me to join their cookout as Charlie was off to dinner elsewhere. After several beers, some wine and what might have been the best ribs that I have ever had the French captain dragged us all into the Micalvi bar and ordered us a couple of rounds of Pisco Sours.

    A few things to know about the Milcalvi:

      <li>No one has ever seen the bartender mix the Pisco Sours</li>
      <li>I (and most people) cannot stand up in the bar as the ceilings are around 5 feet</li>
      <li>The most predominant languages were not English</li>
      <li>Considered by some to be one of the <a href="">All*Time best bars in the world</a></li>

      So at some point after some broken glasses (the other redhead's fault, not mine) and carrying one of the French crew members back to their boat (which had several other boats rafted between it and the Micalvi) I found myself climbing the hill around 4 am with the French ginger, Axel.

      Most of our view was something like this:

      And then something a bit more like this towards the top:

      And then a beat up old flag:

      And then a small cairn to mark something like the top:

      And then we wandered down. 600 meter up and down as far as I can tell.

      Feels a bit like the first couple of nights in Argentina!

      I took all the photos on my GoPro, so blame the funky angles on being slightly inebriated and having no viewfinder or screen!

      But some photos from it can turn out pretty nice:

      Metal and Sunsets at Micalvi

      We're still tied up to the Micalvi with all sorts of different work that we need to do, but enough different stuff that we have some form of ADHD keeping us from being too successful at completing one thing or another. I haven't taken as many photos as the initial rush. You could probably predict the number of photos that I take using a bell curve compared to distance traveled. But I have managed to take a few while we've been rafted here.

      One windy day a couple of French boats started to fly their flags, so I decided to loft one of my own.
      The Micalvi freighter has a couple of neat little bits.
      Still a good view.
      My new favorite boat also is tied up right across the deck from us, and Hamish and Kate invited us to dinner. Meet S/V Seal from Durham, NH, designed by Chuck Paine and Ed Joy, and the hull was built in Ontario. Seal has a swinging keel which they took advantage of, so they completed the interior and the outfitting themselves. Their website, has photos of the process and info on the Antarctic trips that they do when they aren't busy raising their kids.
      Part one of dinner. Ocean Tramp is over on the left with disassembled parts of one of Charlie's planes in the middle.
      It might just be me, but I really like this shot with Seal's anchor.
      While the kids on Seal might not have many toys, they do have interesting ones.

      Headed to 55º South

      New Year's Eve Eve (that's December 30th if that doesn't make sense), Charlie and I flew down to Puerto Williams from Punta Arenas to begin work on Ocean Tramp and Gondwana.

      Leaving Punta Arenas

      On the way out the Chilean Navy had an older toy out for show.

      FlyingInto 2.jpg

      Well, some may have just been kid attractions.

      FlyingInto 3.jpg

      But, I'm headed the other way.

      FlyingInto 4.jpg

      We had a fun little plane for our flight, the Twin Otter. I kinda want switches like this in my car and around the house.

      FlyingInto 7.jpg

      Upon climbing into our turboprop I caught a peak of the big Russian plane that I thought was very cool. Maybe it's just that wing over planes are usually military, but there is something very cool about them one way or another.

      FlyingInto 5.jpg

      FlyingInto 6.jpg

      Some really cool scenery.

      FlyingInto 10.jpg

      FlyingInto 11.jpg

      FlyingInto 12.jpg

      FlyingInto 14.jpg

      Charlie was really focused on getting pictures of some fjords and glaciers, he had the perfect seat picked out and had planned for a couple of days his strategy of getting that seat.

      FlyingInto 9.jpg

      He swiped my camera for a couple of shots, but I'm only going to post one.

      FlyingInto 13.jpg

      Ushuaia (spelling!) on the other side of the Beagle Channel.

      FlyingInto 15.jpg

      GoPros don't have often have bad views where they are working.

      FlyingInto 16.jpg

      A couple of old boats in Puerto Williams.

      FlyingInto 17.jpg

      Upon landing I got my first real glimpse of the Ocean Tramp.

      Micalvi Yacht Club

      Once we got into town Charlie let me know that there wasn't room for us to both sleep on the same boat, or even both in his house, and that I would be sleeping on his smaller boat Gondwana. After dropping some stuff on the boats, going for a hike, moving stuff from the barn to the boats, meeting the neighbors (and drinking shots of whiskey out of formula cups!) we headed to bed.

      Here's the view I woke up to in the morning.

      Micalvi 2.jpg

      And here's my boatmate.


      Gondwana rafted to Ocean Tramp who is alongside the Micalvi Yacht Club.

      Micalvi 3.jpg

      The Micalvi Yacht Club is most basically a shipwreck. She was an old German freighter that was bought by a German weapons manufacturer to make one big delivery to the Chilean military. The Chileans asked if the company wanted it back and were told that it was included in the purchase price, so they used the freighter for a while in the fjords. Eventually the boat became very worn out, and instead of deciding to scrap it they scuttled her in Puerto Williams as a pier and officers club. According to the Maggots of the TGR forums The Bar at the End of the World (the officer's club/bar) is one of the best bars in the World.

      Anyways here's a pic of her.

      Micalvi 1.jpg