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Blog Kytalyk 2013: 28 April

Expedition to Chokurdakh (Sakha Republic) 23 April - 5 May 2013


28 April, Kytalyk

Eight am I woke up feeling rather cold, not really because of the temperature in the kitchen which was heated up the night before, but mainly due to an easterly wind (4-5 m/s) seeping through the fissures in the wall and penetrating my sleeping bag.
The morning is dedicated to prepare all the material and instruments needed to set up a new eddy covariance tower by the lake shore. The largest part of the metal frame is lying on the ground buried under 60 cm of snow. We uncovered half of it, initially convinced that the job was done. But later, while looking at a picture taken last November, we realize that there is more of the frame that needs to be dug from the snow.
Roman takes up the task, while Ron and I move on to continue to free the wind generator base from the ground. We start with shovels, at some point using a pickaxe and finish using screwdrivers as chisels. The work takes longer than expected but in the end we free the last pieces of the wind generator tower from the snow.
Meanwhile Ko was busy with the new troublesome petrol powered steam drill and once it is finally running it did not produce a steam jet strong enough to efficiently thaw the permafrost. In the late afternoon Ko, disappointed with the poor performance of the steam drill, puts away the whole thing and we see him chopping vigorously at a large pile of wood!
We discuss about what to do next: without a working permafrost drill we have no way to anchor the base of the wind generate securely into the permafrost, in its new lake side location, therefore we cannot set up the wind generator. This means we must rely only on solar panels to power the new station. Nevertheless a lack of sunshine is generally not a problem at this time of the year. We decide to set up a complete energy supply system based on the solar panels and to activate the wind generator in summer when we will be able to anchor it solidly into the ground.

We are waiting for the arrival of Kostia, who is expected tomorrow with a good snowmobile which we will use to transport all the equipment to the new site, about 2.5 km westwards from the camp. The engine of the "Buran" will not start and Roman dedicates too much energy to the thankless task, even cleaning the carburettor, but nothing he tries seems to help. Every run of the pull start cord ends in a disappointing thud.