Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Life at McMurdo is much like life on a small college campus, but rather than a whole bunch of kids who just left home for the first time, it is a whole bunch of adults who just left home for the first time since graduating college. Everyone works 9 hour days, 6 days a week. The station operates 24-hours so many people are working night shifts.
Weekends consist of Saturday night and Sunday. Saturday night is a great time to socialize with the other folks on station. Sunday is a time to recover from the week and the things people do to themselves Saturday night.
There is a recreation department in McMurdo. Their full time job is to attempt to keep the general public from going insane because they can't just leave base whenever they choose (mostly for their own safety). Recreational outings this year were very limited due to sea ice conditions not allowing some of the larger vehicles to travel across some large cracks. In normal years the outings could include trips to Cape Royds(Shackleton's hut and penguin colony), Cape Evans (Scott's Terra Nova Hut), or a visit to ice caves that form in the Erebus Glacier Tongue. This year none of that was possible. There are however pressure ridges that form each year near just outside Scott Base. These ridges are formed by the movement of the McMurdo Ice Shelf crushing the sea ice into the land causing it to crack and deform. Tours of the ridges are performed by volunteer staff who take groups out on a previously flagged trail through the ridges.
If you ask the people who go back year after year why they do it, the most common answer seems to be that they like the people down there. McMurdo is an amazing community of talented and adventurous people all of whom have a story worth sharing. It is possibly the most over educated community in the world. Amoung the support staff everyone seems to have some sort of college degree that they no longer use and even if they don't have one they are so well traveled that you can talk to them about almost anything. Of course there is also the scientists who are the reason that we are all there in the first place. The large number of scientists also makes cafeteria conversations enjoyable and interesting. Where else in the world can you sit at a table with one of the most respected scientists in their field, a mountain guide, an equipment mechanic, a carpenter, a cook and janitor for example. Assumptions about anyones background at McMurdo are a huge mistake, because just about anyone could have a Phd in physics or any other subject. People are there for the experience or the ability to have the summers off to travel or any number of other reasons that assumptions would get wrong.