Back to Big Razorback

The grand arrival of the huts to Big Razorback on October 23. This event brings me such joy! Our 5 huts consist of: 1 gear hut (hut #11), 1 kitchen hut (#05), 2 sleeping huts (#18 & 13), and 1 "Center of Excellence" (aka, the thunder house, aka the outhouse). The 4 main huts are pulled by a challenger tractor, while the Center and fuel for snowmobiles pulled by a pisten bully. The sea ice is at least 1 meter deep here.

The huts are then masterfully arranged by the heavy equipment operator (we are very particular about the order and arrangement of the huts considering direction of storms, line of sight with Crater Hill near McMurdo for our communications antennae, and between-hut movement efficiency) and lashed to the sea ice to prevent them from moving in the wind. Here, the kitchen hut (far left) and the equipment hut (far right) sandwich the women's and men's ("hello Victor!") hut. The Center of Excellence is hidden behind the huts in this photo (see next photo).

There's the Center of Excellence hiding behind the main huts. Can you see the penguin stuffed animal near the door (looks like a hand grenade!)? That's our indicator of occupancy. The penguin sometimes lies to the consternation of some (i.e., someone forgets to move the penguin from "occupied" to "unoccupied"). This picture was taken in the midst of a storm caking spindrift snow onto the huts. The Center gets lashed down to the ice extensively (yes, we have lost the Center to the wind in the past!).

A minor example of what happens when we don't lash things down properly. This is one of our (upended) siglund sleds used for transporting our survival bag, flags, and research gear. 

A bonus of Big Razorback camp are the views!! Inaccessible Island lit up to the west. 

To the north-east, Little Razorback Island (triangle rock far left) and looming Mt. Erebus (haloed) and lower crevassed snowfields of Erebus. Bottom right is the northern end of Big Razorback Island and keen eyes can see our crew (and snowmobiles) out on the ice collecting data on the seals.

Is this place real?

At Little Razorback Island, a very small maternal colony is present. Just a handful of pups are born here each year. Here, spindrift covered mom and day old pup dabble in a snowdrift.

And now, with camp in place and the seals pupping, we can really get rolling on the data collection! Here's the entire team, raring to mark and count Weddell seals for science! L to R: Jay Rotella (Principal Investigator), William Link (statistician and photographer), Alissa Anderson (field tech), Shane Petch (Masters student), Kaitlin Macdonald (PhD student), Victor Villalobos (field tech), Kit Cunningham (field tech), and Jesse DeVoe (field tech).


  1. This is M. excellent post. love all the information and why you set up huts as you do.Women;s hut closest to the warm kitchen /hang out hut. Smart. but I cannot see the penguin on the CoE . I would love a photo of inside of huts, but I know that is coming.


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