Sunday, January 17, 2010

Walking to the field of ventifacts

Sunday morning at Lake Hoare--the one day off for most people in Antarctica. The winds have changed direction----they are the Katabatic Winds coming from the west off the Antarctic Ice Field beyond the Dry Valleys. In the winter they can be fierce--today not too bad. The sky was quite blue when Meghan (a field safety person here to help with glacier study, Becky--Lake Hoare assistant manager, Luigi, microbiologist  and I set out to see the field of ventifacts. A ventifact is a rock sculpted by the wind. The winds have carved these stones in different places all over the Dry Valleys.

We headed down Lake Hoare, on the lake itself, stabilizers on our feet. Then back through the fabulous Defile-the narrow passage along the Seuss Glacier and then UP! and UP! and UP! Scrambly loose rock and sand, goatlike Meghan and Becky were far ahead, Luigi next--me dragging behind. At the top--finally the rocks pictured here--Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth --in a landscape. It was warmer and warmer until the top when the perspiration form all the effort combined with the wind as chilling. I love hand warmers--my frozen finger tips were mad warm by putting these little packets in my gloves. We wandered from ventifact to ventifact--taking pictures, commenting on their resemblance to crocs and lion heads and dinosaurs.

Going back down was much easier--of course, back across the lake and home to Lake Hoare camp. As it was Sunday, Rae was off from cooking duties and in the traditions since I have been here Luigi made pasta for the twelve people here last night here in at Lake Hoare. Tomorrow a late afternoon flight back to MacTown.


  1. Hi Elise,
    We have loved keeping up with you and your adventures. Thanks for keeping us posted and sending such detailed reports and photos. It seems amazing! Rachael

  2. Hi Elise! We met your mother at the Museum of Natural History on Saturday, she was telling stories and we got to talking, and she told us about you! My husband (Gregory Frux at did a residency on the ship the Orlova to Antarctica in 2007 and I got to go along (ending up being the ship's photographer). We loved every minute. It looks like you are having a great time! Your posting reminded me that we climbed Ventifact Ridge in Death Valley (where we have done residencies) - it was our first ascent that was entirely below sea level!

  3. I like the Henry Moore, Hepworth references

  4. Totally amazing!!! Cheers!!! ~ Barbie

  5. Thank you for the ventifact pictures. I have wanted to visit them ever since I heard about them. They are glorious! Robbie Lamons