1) How thick is the ice underneath you? Actually right now I am still at McMurdo; here we are strictly land based. There is a snow pack that is very heavy in some areas, but we are not out on the ice at all right now because it is the end of the austral summer and the sea ice is far to thin to move about on safely. The sea ice however gets very thick in the winter months (Feb-Sept) and other then a thin moat that forms on the shore of the Ross Ice Shelf it is fairly thick even now. The ice breaker for instance has been making it's slow way into the sound for the last week already and is just now close enough to get good pictures of.
2) 6a All Saints: How is the penguin? The penguin that I mentioned earlier that had made its way unknowingly out onto the landing strip is perfectly fine. The plane of more than 70 people waited in the air until it safely moved away from the area. Some fire fighters scared it away but did not get close enough, even then, to touch or really scare it. The problem is penguins do not have any land predators here in Antarctica so humans and even huge planes do not scare them as they would scare a deer for instance back home.
3) We did not build an igloo exactly. We did erect three walls around our camp and that was done by using carpenter saws and sawing the compacted snow into blocks. The cave that we made for shelter is slightly different and is known as a Quincy. In order to build this first we arranged all of our big baggage and sleeping pads into a mound on the ground. Then we covered the mound with 2 feet of snow and packed it down as much as possible. After that we went back to building walls and erecting tents for the next hour. At this point you dig a small hole in the back of the Quincy and pull out all of the luggage. Then you continue to dig out a little more of the inside and make your main entrance. Next you plug your backdoor or safety exit and poke air holes through the top of the cave (this lets in new air so don't forget to do that!) Then you are done with your ice cave.