Wednesday morning,we picked up our communications gear - 1 55 pound HF (High-Frequency) radio, two ~ 1 lb VHF radios, and one iridium satellite phone.
After that, most of the day was focused on repacking our scientific equipment. Of course, we figured out the one (so far) thing that was left in California, and spent some time figuring out how to work around it. Most of our stuff goes in a 1 meter^3 box, weighing 500 pounds. The station box weighed 110 pounds, and the other boxes were lighter. The main confusion was over the sealed lead-acid gel batteries (essentially car batteries, but adapted for colder temperatures). After some confusion, we learned that they are not considered hazardous.
We again ate dinner with the IceCube folk - both the northbound and southbound planes were canceled due to weather. The weather was actually bad - just a bit windy - but there was some concern that, when the wind stopped, it would get foggy. That actually happened (see photo below), but it wasn't that bad.
The one significant remaining open issue is internet access. The plan on Thursday is to send a helicopter recce on Friday to Mount Discovery, to look for a place to put a solar powered repeater station. We will bring the ~ 250 lbs of gear required for our side of the link with us.
The tent floor issue is resolved. The regular "Artic Oven" tent floor weighs 300 lbs, and is awkward for the helicopter to carry. We will bring plywood sheets instead, which should cover most of the floor.
On Friday morning, we took everything over to helicopter operations, and categorized it by priority: 1 = cooking and camping gear, and 2 = scientific gear. The heavy gear will be carried underneath the helicopter in a sling. This will be a second flight, both because of weight restrictions (not counting the passengers + worn ECW gear, we have 2900 lbs of stuff), and because safety regulations don't allow passengers on a flight carrying a sling. The current plan is to have Brian come in with us, and then have the 2nd flight about 4 hours later; he will leave on that flight, after the sling is removed. That should give him enough time to check the ground for crevasses.
On Friday afternoon, the scheduled helicopter recce flight was cancelled because of the fog. With our gear packed, we spent the afternoon taking it easy, relaxing, etc. We're not alone - the Pole flight got out, but Mike Z. is still stuck here, bemoaning the Hawaiian vacation that he is missing.
We leave tomorrow, so this will be my last 'travelog' post for a while. The current plan is to try to get the internet link running early next week (Monday or Tuesday); once that is in I will be able to resume posting.