Snow Stakes Run

Every year since 1990 the meteorological (MET) department goes out to measure how much snow drift has accumulated over the previous year. About half a dozen “snow stake lines” radiate 20 kilometers out from the station in all directions to get away from the swirling influence of the buildings and other structures that cause wind eddies and such that skew the way snow drift accumulates.

Because this is such a unique opportunity to get off and far away from the station the MET department invites anyone to come join them. To accommodate these extra people, they take one of the Piston Bully personnel carriers to go out into the great expanse of the polar plateau to measure the snow stakes.

The weekend I was scheduled to go, both Piston Bullies were in the shop and out of order. The measurements still have to be taken so the MET department just takes snowmobiles instead. Although two people can fit on a snowmobile they require each person to have their own snowmobile for greater versatility in the event of an emergency.

I was told if I could find a snowmobile to use I was welcome to come along. The science support department was gracious enough to let me take one of their machines and off we went, blazing toward the distant Antarctic horizon measuring snow.

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.

Talk it up