His timing was perfect- he entered the scene at the initiation of the International Geophysical Year- arguably the biggest science mission of the 20th century, marking the end of the Cold War and a new age of international collaboration.
MY FRIENDSHIP WITH PETER
is perhaps one of those rare crossings in life that often times you don’t see coming, but you wonder how you could do without. I was preparing for my first trip to Antarctica at the age of 19. Peter had also spent his first season on the ice at the same age 50 years prior. On a continent that has experienced more exploration and development in the last 50 years than ever in human history, I was enthralled by his stories of Antarctica during the “wild west” years- before the bureaucracy, before the satellites were launched, back in the days when the U.S. Navy ran the whole crazy operation.
Photo: Peter Webb and ANDRILL scientist, Paola Montone in the Dry Valleys, 2007. By Megan Berg
Watch: A Day with Peter Webb (4 minutes)
And lucky for me, the perfect opportunity presented itself. At the 50th Anniversary conference of Antarctica New Zealand in Wellington, I met Peter’s fellow university student, Barrie McKelvey, and their two advisors, Richard Barwick and Colin Bull. All four of them had the self-deprecating humor and tactful chivalry that brought forth a great bubble of energy and enthusiasm as they recounted those days of hiking up and down the Dry Valleys and across the Beardmore Glacier together with nothing but some mapping gear, a few pairs of solid boots, a stash of food, some tents, and a set of radios.
Watch: ANDRILL Project Iceberg Video Podcast #3: Antarctic Historical Journey (13 minutes)
COLIN BULL PASSED AWAY
in his sleep on the 7th of December, 2010. In memorium, Peter wrote “He was always youthful in spirit and an enthusiastic adventurer at heart… He never espoused a desire to become a dour, humorless, upwardly mobile professional administrator and maintained strong personal and professional ties with his numerous science colleagues to the very end… A little digging beneath the cloak of informal, rambling, cheerful, wise-cracking and apparent benevolent chaos revealed many other qualities that I valued greatly. Words and phrases such as – humor, informality, optimism, generosity, loyalty, frankness, focus, honesty, unconventional out-of-the-box thinking, calculated risk taking, sharing, etc, etc, come readily to mind.”
Photo: Colin Bull.
COLIN LOST HIS WALLET
on the other side of the continent, at Byrd Surface Camp in 1964. I laughed when he asked me in 2009 to look for it during my time there. I like the idea that his wallet is lost, deep down in the ice, in layers upon layers of snow accumulation. Like the stories that bind us together- our world is not only linear, reaching forward into the infinite of time and space, but deeply layered, rooted in the people and places that come before us.
A special thanks to the four of them for their time, their stories, and their inspiration!
Photo: Megan Berg filming in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica, 2007.