Science: Life in the Deep Freeze

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Says Siple: "One reason for the normal life lived down there was that everyone was kept very, very busy, so much so that a few sometimes complained that there was too much to do and not enough leisure." Another was the fact that the men quickly learned to trust their gear and the sound, weatherproofed construction of their quarters. They filled much of their time deep below the ice crust in the "snow mine," where they dug out enough snow to provide water for weekly baths and other uses. Each man spent about eight hours a month in the mine (250 speedy steps down, 250 weary steps back), where the temperature stayed close to — 61°F. "This was the first expedition of this sort I have been on," says Siple, "where a man could keep really clean and smell clean."

While Siple and his crew were running out their year, a rival team of Russians abandoned plans to camp deep within the continent, settled instead for a more accessible site in the interior. Last week, as his relief crew settled down in the Antarctic, Polarman Siple was taking a quiet pride in beating the Russians: "They didn't even reach their original site. Our station has been working for a year now."

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