2009-10 Photos - Urban Renewal continued: Old Pole strikes back

Now that the remediation (or whatever we need to call it) of Old Pole was successfully completed during the 2010-11 summer, the story can be told of the 2009-10 attempt which was somewhat less successful...

During the 2009 winter the only known remaining access point, the shaft erected on the roof of the Holy Stairs entrance had been removed and buried, so the objective this basically to ascertain that the area was safe for general access and use. One plan was to relocate the NGO aircraft parking area and campground to this area, where they could be provided with a larger piece of real estate, further away from active station operations. Anyway...in December 2009, a GPR survey of the area was conducted. After the GPR survey results were reviewed, the area was considered safe. In January the survey area was crisscrossed with the D7 to insure the area was safe...and to fill in the hole left from the removal of the access shaft. Later that day (16 January) a Challenger (MT865) started traversing the area in a circular pattern, using a timber drag to clean up and compact the site. Suddenly it fell rear-first through into a section of the old station, dropping about 40 feet...

dive dive
life is such a drag

In both of these photos can be seen one of the "top hat" structures; these had been constructed with 2x4s and plywood on top of the Old Pole station buildings, to displace the weight of snow from the roofs. The right photo also shows the timber drag that the Challenger was towing...it nearly fell directly on top of the cab windshield!

the calm before the storm

Challenger operator Derek "Storm" Schott was uninjured, and he immediately radioed for help. While he was waiting, he took the above photo looking up through the shattered windshield. Assistance was quickly on the way...in addition to folks who headed out on foot, the D-8, driven by Josiah (Siah) Heiser, was sent over to assist. Siah waited outside the immediate danger area...or so he thought. When he was about 150 feet west of the Challenger, the D-8 suddenly dropped about 10 feet:

makin' tracks
a siah of relief

Siah was unhurt and able to exit the D-8...he headed for the Challenger collapse site, where he helped dig steps down to the vehicle. The Challenger door was dug out, and Storm was able to get out safely.

Storm and Siah were immediately given a medical evaluation (no issues)... and plans were made to extract the two pieces of equipment...which was completed successfully over the next few days. It was later determined that the Challenger had fallen into the two top hats covering the communications building at the west end of the station (station site plans), and we suspect that the D-8 sank into some buried Jamesways that were west of the Holy Stairs--I have a 1974 site plan blueprint that shows some deleted structures in this area. Further plans to remediate the area this season were abandoned...eventually to be completed in the 2010-11 summer (information and photos from the common drive and this February 2011 Antarctic Sun article).

Next, a look at some of the changes at McMurdo Station during the 2009-10 summer.

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