Courtesy photo [no longer online--Bill]
Logan Grover, standing in the South Pole in January, is the Winter Site Manager with the U.S. Antarctic Program.
BOULDER, Colo. — After serving as a U.S. Army combat engineer and receiving a master's degree in business from the University of Colorado, Boulder native Logan Grover wanted to find a new, unique challenge.
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He came across a few military contracts, but wanted to put his business degree to good use. So when he attended a job fair, he found a great opportunity -- Winter Site Manager at the South Pole.
"The challenge turned me on more than anything else," said Grover, a Fairview High School grad. "Being in the windiest, coldest, most isolated environment during the harshest time of the year with complete responsibility for the success or failure of the operation; it's an intimidating responsibility but also makes it an exciting challenge."
In July, Grover signed a 17-month contract with Raytheon Polar Services -- 13 months of which will be spent at the South Pole helping with the U.S. Antarctic Program. He will remain there until November.
So far, he said that things are going rather well, but that the hardest part of the job is the isolation.
"There's no other place in the world that is isolated like this," Grover, 31, said in a phone interview from the South Pole. "You have friends and family back home; one sister is going to have a baby while I'm here. It's difficult missing out on those things. You have to set your mind to understanding that ahead of time."
Grover said that his job description entails anything that happens at the station over the winter -- which is happening now in the South Pole. He is in charge of 42 other people, mostly scientists conducting scientific research at the South Pole.
The South Pole station is one of three year-round stations operated by the National Science Foundation for research purposes. The United States is the only country to have had a constant presence at the South Pole since 1956. Research projects can range from the studying of the extremely thin and dry air in Antarctica to the exploration of dark energy.
The harsh conditions include no light for months at a time, the average temperature being 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and a lack of moisture and oxygen in the air. Grover said that before he could even be considered for the job, he had to go through an intense process of background checks, drug screenings, and medical, dental and psychiatric evaluations.
"Any issues in those categories and depending on (the severity of those issues), it could exclude you from wintering," said Grover. "There are a lot of people that won't pass all of the different certifications. The reason we go through all of those checks is because (being here) will absolutely test your endurance."
Grover said his friends and family understand why he took the job.
"They're all kind of used to it by now," he said. "I spend most of my time doing international volunteer work and traveling. It all prepared them for telling them I was going to Antarctica for a year. They were excited."
Scott Marble, South Pole area director, has worked with Grover since last August. Marble said that Grover really cares about not just the operation, but the people there as well.
Marble said that Grover goes out of his way to make sure his employees at the South Pole have the opportunity to continue their work with the program after their contract ends.
"He's a very dedicated, hardworking and compassionate person," said Marble. "He really takes special pains to look after his people."
Grover said that while nothing is easy about living at the South Pole, he wouldn't change a thing.
"Everyday presents new challenges," said Grover. "It's definitely exhausting. I'm not going to walk away saying it's too easy, but it makes it worthwhile. It's challenging but rewarding."