The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station runs on New Zealand time, putting us in the first time zone of the world. That, of course, means we hit the new year before anyone else. New Year's Eve is one of the big events of the summer season down here and this year was no different. The cargo crew decided it'd be fun to build a tiki bar outside using giant blocks of snow and an old air drop parachute. It was complete with stools, chairs from inside, a bar with peanuts, and even a fire pit where they were heating poppers and mozzarella sticks. And just to the side of the tiki bar was an enormous mound of snow that was built up over the last week or so as station workers have been leveling last year's snow drifts to prepare for the coming winter season. People started shaping it into a pretty awesome sledding hill.
Actual furniture inside the parachute. Awesome.
The bar had stools... and peanuts!
Graeme, a fellow SPTer, looking dapper in front of the tiki bar with his awesome Pole beard, sports jacket, and scarf.
Building a sledding hill next to the tiki bar.
There was a short pause in the festivities for dinner and then practically everyone headed to the gym for some local music. The station is full of really talented people, and every year at least a couple bands form. The first band was made up of mostly people in the IT and fire departments. One song they wrote called "The Epic" was predominantly about The Princess Bride. Lots of fun references. Later in the night, after we had past into 2013, the lead singer of the group ended up making an announcement to the whole crowd that he had just (successfully) proposed to his girlfriend who's working on the station this season as well. Congrats to the both of you!
The first band performing at the New Year's Eve party. The front man in white proposed to his girlfriend later in the evening. Congrats, Andre!
The final band of the night was half made up of fellow CMB friends. Jon, lead guitarist and singer, works on BICEP II, which is a project searching for a very similar signal to what SPT is looking for. Tijmen, a fellow SPTer, also sang, played the keyboard, and bass guitar. Both are also fellow BSG fanatics, and both are incredible musicians. The rest of the band was made up of Daniel, one of the head IT guys, and Felipe, who works on the Ice Cube experiment (and both played in the previous band as well). They all blew the crowd away with some awesome covers, including Bohemian Rhapsody, some Hendrix, and some Tom Petty. Having heard these guys play last year, I had been looking forward to this performance all season. It was an awesome way to close out 2012!
The second band, complete with two CMB musicians, Jon Kaufman of BICEP II (center), and Tijmen de Haan of SPT (back right).
For the next couple hours there was a pretty awesome dance party. I don't dance all that often, but New Year's Eve at the South Pole always makes the exception list. The whole evening was fantastic. It's just such a great experience and opportunity and I'm so thankful to have been able to do it these past couple years. To be down at the bottom of the Earth is one thing, but to be here with such awesome people... it's hard to top.
I'm down to six days at Pole. As far as we can tell the camera is working beautifully so there will be little reason for me and the rest of the Receiver Team to head down next year (and hopefully I'll be finishing up my thesisI'm doing my best to soak it in now. Before I know it all of this will just be memories...
The South Pole Christmas tree.