Ice Cores from Mt. Logan, Yukon Territory, Canada

Ice Cores from Mt. Logan, Yukon Territory, Canada

Erich Osterberg, Gerald Holdsworth (University of Calgary), Steve Bartolo

May 1 to June 15, 2005

We intend to collect ice cores and snow pit samples, and install weather stations on Mt. Logan, Yukon, Canada, in order to investigate the climate history of the North Pacific over the past several thousand years. In 1980, an ice core was drilled at N.W. Col on the summit plateau (5300 m elevation) by Dr. Gerald Holdsworth of the University of Calgary. This core contained a wealth of information about the temperature, precipitation patterns, storminess, and atmospheric ciruculation of the past 300 years. In 2001 and 2002, an additional ice core was drilled on the summit plateau at PR Col (approximtely 1 km away from the 1980 site) along with two other ice cores at King Col (4000 m elevation) and Eclipse Dome (3000 m). These new cores are currently being analyzed by the University of Maine, the University of New Hampshire, the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, the Geological Suvey of Canada, the University of Washington and the University of Copenhagen. The pupose of the present expedition is to extend the ice core records at both summit sites (NW Col and PR Col) up to the present, and provide detailed meteorological data to help in the analysis of the cores.

Mt. Logan Map

We plan to install a total of 3 automatic weather stations on Mt. Logan: one at 3200 m elevation, one at NW Col on the summit plateau (5300 m), and one on AINA peak adjacent to the plateau (5600 m). These weather stations will record temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction every hour for the next year and a half. We also intend to recover the data from an automatic weather station installed at PR Col in 2002. We will also drill 15 m–long ice cores at NW Col and PR Col for oxygen isotope and chemistry data using a hand auger. Finally, we will collect a transect of snow–pit and surface snow samples along the ascent route to the summit plateau. We will be travelling on skis, hauling our gear in sleds, and camping on the glacier.

Approximate Schedule:

May 2 – arrive in Whitehorse, CA, drive to Kluane Lake Research Station

May 3 – 8 shop, pack supplies and prepare for expedition

May 9 or 10 – Fly into the base camp site in King Trench, 3200 m elevation, by ski–plane.

May 10–24 – Install AWS at King Trench. Ascend Mt. Logan to the sumit plateau via the King Trench route taking snow pit samples every 500–1000 m elevation.

Mt Logan

May 24 – June 20 – Once a summit plateau camp is established, a helicopter will transport the ice core drill and two additional weather stations to the plateau camp. We will then drill several 15 m–long ice cores and dig two 4–m deep snow–pits to collect samples. Install weather stations at NW Col and AINA peak. Once cores are collected, the helicopter will return to bring the ice cores and samples to Kluane Lake station.

June 20 – July 1 Decend Mt. Logan and fly out from base camp back to Kluane Lake station.

Erich’s notes from the field:

May 2, 2005

Arrived in Whitehorse without any of my bags!! Not unusual given the amount of gear I was flying with. Gerry picked me up at the airport and we made the 3 hr drive to Kluane station. Arrived in Kluane at 2 am (5 am Maine time) after 22 hours of traveling.

May 4 and 5, 2005

Made two more trips to Whitehorse and back to do some shopping (food and some supplies) and collect my bags. They finally all arrived on Thursday the 5th, only 4 days late. The long drives to Whitehorse and back were made more exciting with all the wildlife along the road. We saw 3 bison, a wolverine, several mule deer, a moose and a coyote (or a wolf). The weather here is beautiful, with mostly clear skies and temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The days are quite long as well, with sunset at ∼11 pm. The only problem so far has been a difficulty programming one of the weather stations.

May 6 and 7, 2005

No trips to Whitehorse, but we made a quick trip to visit the helicopter pilot. Most of the time has been spent packing the food and gathering the gear together. We have to separate things into which gear is getting hauled to the summit by us and which is getting flown by helicopter. Unfortunately, lots of it is going with us. Gerry and I fixed the AWS programming problem and all of the gear is now ready to go. We’re just waiting for the third member of our team, Steve Bartolo, to arrive on Sunday. Steve is an experienced mountaineer who has been to the summit of Mt. Logan before as a member of the 2001 – 2002 summit drilling team. Right now the plan is to fly out to the Logan base camp on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather.