This blog is essentially about my need to practice English. I only speak one language, rather poorly, and any chance I get to express myself in writing is probably beneficial for me and detrimental to the reader.

Originally, this blog was started to document my descent into madness during a four-month field season in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Despite attempts to stay warm, I now work in both the Antarctic and the Arctic. So while I’ve kept the tagline for the blog the same, I can now say I’m equally terrified in both hemispheres.

Since my original season in the Dry Valleys, I’ve moved up north to the Canadian High Arctic on Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands. As I’m now working in the North and South I’ve organized my blog depending on hemisphere.

In 2012 I headed back to Antarctica in order to explore for life in permanently ice-covered lakes. Yep, ice-diving in Antarctica. These were hosted at The New York Times and in efforts to avoid copyright infringement of myself I’ve posted the links only.

Come by occasionally and check in for updates. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about what it’s like living at the poles or about the work I do.

Ah, and seeing as social media has ruined any free time we used to have to explore the outdoors, here’s the requisite links for contact and updates:



With warmest regards,



All thedryvalleys.com content © 2014 Michael Becker. All rights reserved.


37 thoughts on “About

    • The thing in my banner is a highly degraded corpse of a seal. It’s one of the mummies out here that has been eaten away at by wind and sand, so all that remains are a few scraps of skin and bleached white bones. Pretty cool, eh?

  1. Very Nice work.
    Beautiful world, yes?

    So glad you are out there – I hope the peace and good vibes you are sending out return very quickly to you…today.

    Everyone is closer than you think…

    How was breakfast?
    The weather on my island is nice…yours?

    Best and all our respect, prayers and well wishes.


    (the black swan)

    • Breakfast usually consists of cereal and coffee. Lots of coffee.

      The weather here is excellent – anywhere between 15F and 35F. Much warmer than the rest of the continent.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Love the blog, got here from reddit now I check everyday. One question, What are you doing there?

    Whatever you’re doing, I’m glad you are b/c I didn’t know The Dry Valleys existed and they are too interesting to miss out on.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. I found this link via a fan of NPR, Fahad Hassan.
    Great photos. May I ask what camera make/model you use?

    Keep moving and stay safe!

  4. I just found your blog on Metafilter and spent the last half-hour going through the old posts. Can you see auroras from where you are, or are you too far from the southern magnetic pole?

    I have few practical science skills but if McMurdo’s looking to hire an on-site copy editor, let me know!

  5. MetaFilter led me here and I am thankful they did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts. I look forward to reading future posts as well. I have a fondness for Shackleton and The Endurance, thanks for the side story of the other boat. Hard to imagine living on Antartica in the early 1900’s with their primitive equipment.

    Best of luck!

  6. Ahh, a place just like North Dakota yet much more interesting :)

    Thanks for blogging your experiences with the world, this is some of the better reading i have done in a while.


  7. I was just discussing the dry Valleys with my son which led to a search for some pictures and info.

    Finding your site with it’s very well written (yes, I mean that) description of your journey is perfect. I feel I have been there for a brief moment and experienced it personally through your words. Far better and more satisfying than just looking at pretty pictures. You have made the place accessible.


    • You’re very welcome. Out of curiosity, how did the Dry Valleys come up in conversation? Glad to hear I could provide some info, and who knows, maybe your son could get down there some day.

  8. Have you seen those Stats below, you’re doing bloody good! It’s very hard for me to project myself doing whatever you’re doing up North, but I find it interesting

  9. Awesome! absolutely everything i’ve seen here i will have to see up close in person, who can i get in contact with to find out if there is one more open spot on the team for a “fix-everything-build-anything-survive-anywhere-happy-go-lucky” bloke like me? i’ve been looking around for something just like this, and this research project that you have the great privilege of being part of seems like the best start. who must i speak to?

    • If you’re looking for support work, the best place to start looking is with the private contractors like Raytheon (Antarctic), Polar Continental Shelf Program (Canadian Arctic) and CH2MHill (Greenland). There are more than that but those are the only two I’m familiar with. The private contractors will have the most positions available for general trade jobs, construction, repair, science support, transportation, etc. The other route is contacting specific researchers to see if they need help on their teams. Be dedicated. Goodluck with your search!

  10. Dear Michael,

    I am a college professor in Chicago, the Windy City. I understand that the winds in the dry valleys are high and sustained. Would your research facility be interested in a team of engineering students designing and installing a wind powered generating system for your research facility? If so, I work with interdisciplinary teams of engineers at Illinois Institute of Technology, and we would be interested in working with you to design such a system.

    Best wishes,

    Blake Davis
    Adjunct Professor
    Industrial Technology and Management
    School of Applied Sciences
    Illinois Institute of Technology
    3300 S. Federal St.
    Chicago, Illinois 60609

  11. I am going to be looking into physical geography graduate programs soon. How did you get involved in a research program in Antarctica in the first place?

    • Hi Eric,
      I got involved by cold calling and getting in touch with everyone I could find that did research in the Antarctic. (This is after a several years of prior field work and ourdoorsy stuff).

      If you are trying to get into a graduate program first, and then get down to Antarctica as a student you will have a much easier time than finding a job as a temporary field assistant.

      Have a google and see what names you come across for programs, and when you find one my best advice is this: be persistent. Very persistent. And best of luck.

  12. Hi There,
    I am doing an Inquiry Project on The Dry Valleys for school and stumbled across your site. Would it be alright if I quoted a couple of things you have said/mentioned on this site? I found it very helpful and it was great to get somebody’s point-of-view on the Dry Valleys and your experience there. Would that be alright? And if it is, could I please get your name? I need to include a source. (: Cheers.
    Fantastic site by the way ;)

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