About Mark Walsh
Mississippi born and raised, Mark Walsh spends his time these days in Antarctica as a weather weather observer at McMurdo Station. The Frozen Toe is an outlet for his stories, photos and observations about life on the ice. He is also the founder of Barefoot Wallets, wallets for the adventure traveler, which comes in an assortment of colors and designs.
Latest Posts by Mark Walsh
Marco Flagg was born in Germany. He is a self-taught engineer who found himself in Antarctica testing an under-ice navigation system he had designed and built. As a kid, he had biked his way across Europe and hitch-hiked the oceans aboard freighters.
He has been in two small plane crashes, a malfunctioning deep-water submarine, attacked by a great white shark, and has survived them all with the same look in his eyes that only geniuses and lunatics possess.
So, when Marco suggested we boondoggle over to Castle Rock that afternoon, it was without question or hesitation that the five of us FiNGy’s checked-out from the firehouse before our Sunday brunch had even begun to settle.
“FiNGy” (pronounced “FiNGee”) is proper pronunciation for the Antarctic acronym “FNG” – Fucking New Guy. Being a FiNGy is a privilege, especially for those who spent years of their lives earning the opportunity to wash dishes, drive shuttles, or shovel the snow of Antarctica.
It is an identity which cannot be defined by age or education, but only by the willingness to do whatever it takes to experience the world’s southernmost continent.
This treasure does not come without trial, however, and FiNGy’s must learn to filter the truthful tales from the bogus claims about life on the ice. Their FiNGal identity can be subtly shaped by their acceptance of offers such as a tour of a visiting nuclear submarine, camping in Scott’s historical hut, or even by believing the tale of a Kiwi winter-over living in an ice cave.
These were some of the allegations I heard my FiNGy year, and they were filed in the back of my mind as the few Antarctic experiences I was not planning to pursue.
It was our first hike of the season. Our quick-pace was fueled by the good weather we had on that cloudless, windless day whose tranquility had overloaded our senses that were still in shock from lack of Antarctic stimuli.
This serenity was short lived however, as the teeth in our heads began to clatter from the -30⁰F temperatures that surrounded, and this quickly became cause to duck inside a Red Apple near the base of Castle Rock.
Our Nalgene bottles had thinly frozen, but the hydration helped to warm our core nonetheless.
Even still, two of our team decided to turn back towards town, as their non-insulated boots would not withstand the remainder of the trek.
Our group of 5 FiNGy’s dwindled to three, but not before we all signed the log-book, and claimed our space in this rare piece of Antarctic produce.
It was then that Marco, Dustin, and I scrambled down the peninsula, and entered onto the flat frozen ice sheet that would comprise the rest of our journey.
What little sunlight we were afforded that time of year had slipped behind the rock, and as we hiked in its shadow, these cooling temperatures were met with the wind and snow from a storm that had tactlessly timed itself with our position.
As we slid deep into our parkas, we lost sight of both our periphery and our partners, and the three of us became separated on the stretch of trail leading back to civilization.
Footprints were the only things visible amongst the powder, and I did my best to follow them for the next three miles until the snow-road finally turned to dirt as we approached Scott Base.
The lime-green glow of the Kiwi’s Antarctic home was warming on our eyes but did little for our hearts, and only after regrouping did we invite ourselves into their station in both the name of comfort and safety.
As the snow in our hair began to melt, we walked with red-nose and in stocking feet towards the bar, but were met with an absent silence unlike any we had ever experienced on “American Night.”
Unsure of where to turn, we looked in the adjoining kitchen, and saw a man who was staring at us more blindly than a deer into headlights, and after explaining our situation, he invited us to sit and warm over some coffee and biscuits.
The jitter of our hands that had been from the cold was now from caffeine, and this helped to fuel both our spirits and our conversation as we sat with Paul – the electrician from Christchurch.
But after an hour of exchanging pleasantries, there was little depth in our dialogue, so I took the opportunity to ask him about the Kiwi ice cave, and debunk what was surely just a hoax meant for FiNGy reflection.
His candor was the cause for our surprise, and we sat in awe through the explanation of how it was he who had built, and lived, in the notorious ice cave all winter. The whites of our eyes had accepted his invitation long before it was extended, and we soon stood outside watching the blue extension cord disappear in the snow, trying to imagine what it could possibly empower.
It was a small opening, not even tall enough to crawl, but one-by-one we dove after Paul, down the rabbit hole, pulling ourselves along on our elbows. What little light remained outside had soon disappeared, and the new-found darkness in the narrow tunnel helped form a feeling of claustrophobia.
The tunnel’s gentle down-slope soon turned skyward, and we arrived to a small room with two bunks carved out of snow, one on either side. Between these slabs of frozen slumber stood a small table, atop of which was tall, slender tube.
This hookah-like object was, unfortunately, just a lamp, and as rays of light passed through the patterns of its punctured exterior, so too did any thought of heightening this experience in the company of a caterpillar.
The room seemed to shrink as the four of us attempted to stand, and we soon found ourselves back in the tunnels, crawling our way towards the second of this three-roomed frozen manor.
It was a large, circular space with bench seats carved into the perimeter, and a pillar of snow standing in the center. A light bulb was embedded in the snow-column’s core whose hazy yellow glow made our appearance seem shrunken in the room’s ample interior – one that afforded seating for nine.
But rather than test our fortunes with a bite from this metaphysical mushroom, we crawled through the wall and entered the final chamber of Paul’s winter-ous haven.
The space was suitably sized for our foursome, and two in a line we sat on the floor, with our backs against its square, frozen sides whose wall-ends were left open to accommodate a movie projector and a small pull-down screen. Its bulb would not burn during our time in the theater however, so it was only with our imaginations that we could picture the inevitable end to this underworld journey.
Unlike any time before had a thunderous ride in the back of a Land Cruiser been silenced by the minds pride, and only as we sat at dinner did the full extent of “what-the-hell-just-happened” start to be realized.
After many a quick-stare and smirky-grin did the three of us succumb to tell the other FiNGy’s about their lost opportunity, and even though they much preferred to feel the flow blood in their toes over that temporary rush of adrenaline in their veins, they would curse their foolish footwear for weeks to come.
As the summer sun continued to rise, so too did the temperatures that led to the eventual demise of this unique piece of Antarctic accommodation.
By the request of its maker, no physical reminders remain of its existence, so only as our minds reminisce do the chamber-ous hallows of that frozen home become restored, that will forever hold its place in Antarctic lore, as one whose occupation led us one step closer to finally losing our sacred FiNG-inity.
In October 1970, a US Navy C-121 Constellation took off from Christchurch, NZ on the ten-hour inaugural flight of Operation Deep Freeze. Well past its Point of Safe Return, and only an hour from McMurdo, the weather deteriorated and Pegasus crash landed at McMurdo’s only permanent airfield.
Although none of the 80 passengers on board were killed, this airfield would come to bear the name of the plane whose wreckage is still visible only 2000 ft from the current runway.
The wreckage sits as a reminder of mans vulnerability on this extreme continent, especially to those of us whose job is to bring these planes, provisions, and people safely to Antarctica.
I, of course, knew none of this when I showed up to the weather office for my first night of training over a year ago. It was shortly before midnight when I arrived, and was then, as we waited inside for the engine of our van to warm, that I first came to notice, and eventually appreciate, the words on the front of my boss’ t-shirt.
I accepted them as only half-truths. Sure, I was expecting, actually looking forward to, being mentored by some of the craziest people this side of 60 S.
But I was also pretty familiar with the process of getting here in the first place, and knew that that in it self could drive you crazy well before even stepping foot on this frozen continent. It wasn’t until we pulled away from this rock we call MacTown, that I would start to realize some reasons why this shirt has become so stylish.
“Firehouse Firehouse, 2-1-5″
“Van 215 departing McMurdo. Destination Pegasus. 3 souls on board.”
“All clear 215. Report back upon arrival.”
My experience communicating via CB radio was limited to a few occasions on a small sailboat. But not even in an unknown game of chicken with a barge in the middle of the night, did I ever think to refer to ourselves as souls.
I took it as another subtle reminder of the inherent risk in everything we do here, even if it is just the daily commute.
But I was in good hands. My boss and our driver had amassed over 20 seasons of ice time between themselves, and although interested, I could hear little of their conversation over the whine of the engine and whistling of the wind as the mud tires of our raised, 4 wheel drive, red Ford van tromped its way out to Pegasus.
Luckily, the weather was beautiful for my first night of observing on the earth’s windiest continent. “Ten and Clear,” as we would say back at Mobile Regional, or so I thought. It wasn’t until we were well on the road, marked only by red flags atop small bamboo poles that I would come to find out otherwise.
The red of the flags was out-shined only by the reflective glow of silver tape bound to the bamboo’s shaft, but both of these colors blurred as our van sped towards the ever-evading vanishing point in the headlights.
Then, just before this monotonous view of the horizon forced a feeling of tedium, everything, suddenly, went black.
At least it seemed to during the eternal seconds it took my eyes to adjust. But finally the flat, vast, empty ice sheet dimly appeared, as the light of the moon slowly compensated for the missing headlights. In this confusion I leaned forward from the back seat, only to hear the word of something I had for so long wanted to see – Auroras
My left cheek quickly glued itself to the frozen window as my lungs held their breath so not to fog my eyes first site of nature’s liquid light show. Unfortunately, what my eyes’ experienced fell well short of my mind’s expectations, and in reacting to this slap in the face, I turned the other cheek as I looked skyward on the opposite side of the van.
Still, nothing other than what I thought to be a few high cirrus clouds. Their faint white glow shone high in the sky, and only with an Inspector Gadget-like neck could you see the prize that surely had to be above us.
As we piled out of the van, my head went immediately skyward, searching the heavens for any colors other than the bleached white stains that still resided high in the troposphere.
My patience was tested while my boss stood her tripod, affixed with a camera much nicer than any I have ever owned. This anticipation seemed perpetual, where, in reality, it was only about 15 seconds – just enough exposure for the camera to capture what for so long had eluded my all too eager eyes.
It was not long before the bitter cold sucked the life out of the defenseless battery, so we hurried inside to view the images before the camera took its last breath.
Then, only after this most precarious of commutes, what for so long had evaded this mortal’s eye finally appeared, and although the screen of the camera did little justice to the scope of what presided above, this machine revealed what man could only reverie.
This partial spectrum of color spanned the horizon with a hazy green glow reminiscent of a time I was not fortunate enough to experience. As I returned outside, with only closed eyes could I see through these milky skies, and imagine the hidden psychedelia of color that lied within.
It was then, that my mind came to cherish this unassisted jaunt into the night, and produced its own show, so brilliant and bright that even Jerry, would want to see.
Lying in their bunks, as the inevitable darkness of winter began to arrive, a member of the British Antarctic Expedition scribbles the latest score of their teams attempt to reach the South Pole.
The figures aren’t promising, and as the team prepares to search for their missing party the following summer, their hope of reuniting with their countryman continues to fade along with sun, whose dim glow is barely visible on the horizon. Only after the burial of old-man winter, can the team set out to discover the fate of their comrades, who had partaken in what would become the last great race on earth.
It would take the team months to retrace the footsteps of their leader, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four other team members who had set out to stake the unclaimed pole for the crown.
As the search team trudged through thick snow, over steep glaciers, and around deep crevasses, their last morsels of hope were being swallowed, as they too struggled across the vast frozen continent.
On November 12, 1912, they spotted the half buried tent of their captain, and were finally forced to stomach the grim reality that their commander had not survived his unworldly voyage.
The canvas tent, upheld only by bamboo poles, had survived the long winter and preserved the body of Scott. Lying stoically atop his sleeping bag with an open coat, he was nestled between the two remaining members of the original crew who lay covered by their bags “as if they were dozing.”
Scott was instantly immortalized as a tragic hero, but only after the inspection of his journals, had the extent of this tragedy come to be realized. If the starving, freezing death of these men wasn’t painful enough for the searching team, it the loss of the pole that added insult to their injury.
The Polar Regions are the two most pristine places remaining on earth. Both their extreme climates and breathtaking beauty make these places intriguing to most, but it is their virgin landscapes and unique ecosystems make them a priceless theater for scientists. Luckily, both professors and policy makers alike have recognized this aspect, and have put measures in place to ensure that these regions remain both scientifically legitimate and productive for future generations.
1961 saw the enactment of the Antarctic Treaty, a document that has expanded to protect the peace, science, and environment in Antarctica. Additionally, there are specific of periods of international awareness, cooperation, and funding that catalyzes this scientific advancement.
These International Polar Year’s (IPY’s) take place every 50 years, with the IPY last occurring in the 2007/08 Antarctic season.
The cumulating event for the latest IPY took place this past June in Oslo, Norway, and I was chosen to attend as teacher, complimenting the other 2,500 scientists, educators, and interested parties at the world’s largest gathering of polar scientists, ever.
It was then that I became acquainted with Norway; a beautiful country with wonderful people, but it was one person in particular whom I came to know from afar, that made this amazing race to the bottom all the more personal.
Roald Amundsen was born near Oslo in 1872. As the youngest son, he was pressured to study medicine, only to drop out of school after the death of his mother to pursue a career on the most frigid of the high seas.
Amundsen became the first to cross the Northwest Passage while captain of the Goja. This success undoubtedly fueled his appetite for polar exploration, and upon return, Amundsen organized a second venture to reach the North Pole.
He would be beaten in this quest however, as news spread of American, Robert Perry’s claim to the North Pole, a fact that is still disputed today.
Regardless, Amundsen proceeded planning his expedition to the North, changing the focus from an expedition of discovery to an expedition of science, thus allowing him to keep the funding, and the boat, that he had already been pledged.
Only Amundsen knew, however, that “it was with clear conscience that [he] would postpone the original plan, and try to solve the last great problem… the South Pole.”
He had been promised the Fram, the boat owned by another famed Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen. However, neither Fram’s owner, nor her crew was aware of the upcoming about-face their voyage was going to take, and on June 6, 1910 Amundsen left Oslo, on an embezzled boat with captured crew, on what would unknowingly become the greatest, coldest quest of their young lives.
Ironically, the courses to both the North and South Pole were initially the same, buying Amundsen time before notifying the Fram that her keel would ultimately go to the southern ocean.
It wasn’t until a planned stop to Madeira, Portugal that the crew was informed of the change of course, and only with all on board consenting, sent a candid message to Scott saying, “I beg leave inform you, proceeding Antarctic. Amundsen.”
A month would pass before Scott received word of the Amundsen’s altered course, a telegram that deeply troubled him and his crew. The extent of their troubles would not be realized, however until January 17, 1912, after reaching the pole, 34 days after the crazed Norwegian.
“Great God, this is an awful place,” a feeling warranted by the Norwegian flag flying atop the small tent marking camp Polheim. This “home at the pole” was christened by Amundsen, who with his team of five men and eighteen dogs had staked claim to the spot that so narrowly evaded Scott and his country.
“All the day dreams must go. It will be a wearisome return,” was the precognitive journal entry that marked the beginning of the end for Scott and his party.
Their long march home was wrought with blinding snow, insufficient supplies, and frostbitten limbs, as the five man team gradually shriveled down to three.
Those remaining grew weaker by the everlasting day, and their hopes of survival diminished as they desperately plodded in the direction of Cape Evans.
“They died having done something great. How hard must not death be, having done nothing,” mustered a member of the search party as they lowered the tent over the three frozen men.
As the team buried their comrades in a tomb of snow, these thoughts of valor were second only to thoughts of their own fortune.
Onward Christian Soldier was sung aloud, while the search team placed a pair of crossed skis atop the white frozen veil to mark the resting spot of their fateful companions. As they read from the book of Corinthians, not a single soldier queried the bravery of their countrymen, but all undoubtedly questioned their fate, as they would forever lie buried, hungry and frozen, a lifetime away from their homeland, but only 11 miles away from a supply cache with food and fuel.
Kia Ora (pronounced as one word – Keyora) literally translates to “be well”, or “be healthy.” It is a traditional Māori greeting that today is widely used much like a Hi, Hello, Welcome, or G’Day. Kia Ora is also the title of Air New Zealand’s complimentary in-flight magazine, which is where I first came across the word while taxiing down the runway just before leaving LAX, the country, and my frenetic state of mind.
I was actually looking forward to the flight from L.A. to Auckland. I had never crossed an ocean, or even been in a plane large enough to do so. The 13 hour flight was the first time in three days that I was going to be able to get some sleep, and the first time in about three years that I had nothing else to do, or nowhere else to be.
To my right was a window; to my left was Daniel Leite, a 22 year-old student from Brazil who was in the middle of his own trip around the world. After a brief discussion on Brazilian music, politics, and women, I passed out, and didn’t blink again until we were awoken by the captain, just in time for breakfast and only 90 minutes outside of Auckland, NZ.
It probably should have bothered me that it was only 8:00 AM. But hell, I had just crossed an ocean, lost a day, gained some rest, and had quickly adapted to the lifestyle in New Zealand. Besides, it’s bad luck not to have a beer in an airport, especially one you’ve never been to before. The bartender recommended an ice cold Speight’s draft, and it only lasted about as long as our conversation.
It was only one more flight, along with some beautiful scenery, a cup of tea, and some “Lolly Mix” before we touched down in Christchurch. If I would have only known that Lolly Mix is the Kiwi-version of Gummy Bears, I would have gotten the peanuts…
Christchurch has been a hub for many Antarctic expeditions dating back to the 1800’s. Both Robert Falcon Scott and Earnest Shackleton used Christchurch and the neighboring port of Lyttleton as a provisioning and departing point for their Antarctic expeditions.
Even those not departing from Christchurch recognized it as the “Gateway to Antarctica,” and these Antarctic connections have added to the cultural and economic base of the city. Today Christchurch serves as a major base of operations for the Italian, New Zealand, and United States Antarctic Program’s (USAP).
The International Antarctic Center is also located in Christchurch, which provides base facilities for the USAP, and also offers a museum and visitor’s center where the public can “experience” Antarctica.
After meeting up with some friends, we dropped our bags at the Commodore Hotel and headed into town. Our first stop was Bailie’s Bar. Bailie’s, an Irish pub, has been the place to find Antarctic hopefuls since 1863.
Inside, you’ll find a myriad of autographed pictures, artifacts, and memorabilia from Antarctic expeditions dating back to before Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition of 1910. Fellow USAP participants were always easy to spot, and Bailie’s became a good place to meet and mingle before heading down to the ice.
It was also the first place I had been that really connected me to the program, people, and continent to which I was about to venture.
Saturday night ended unusually early because of my appointment at the USAP Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) early the next morning. The CDC houses over 200,000 pieces of Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear required to live and work in Antarctica. All USAP participants must go through the CDC to be issued their ECW gear before departing to the ice.
Upon arrival to the CDC, we entered a room piled high with orange gear bags. Unfortunately, I would come to find that the odds of finding your gear bags were actually better than the odds of finding a date once arriving to McMurdo.
It took a couple of hours to find, fit, and exchange all of my ECW gear before I finally had a set that worked, but before leaving I took a moment to stare proudly at my name tag which was velcroed to the front of “Big Red.”
It was Christmas Eve, almost 20 years ago, that I last lay in bed with as much excitement, anxiety, and anticipation that had kept me awake that particular night. The 3:00 AM wake up call was not necessary, as I had already showered and packed well before the shuttle arrived and drove us to the CDC.
As I dressed in my ECW gear required for the flight, I realized that the previous day’s dress rehearsal did little to kill what butterflies still lingered in my stomach, and I found myself repeating a phrase common to my years as a soccer player and coach… It’s game time
After a quick breakfast at the International Antarctic Center, all 126 scientists, civilians, vagabonds, and voyagers were searched, sniffed, and scanned before checking our bags and gathering in a small room where we watched a short video on Antarctic safety.
The smokers were given one last opportunity to calm their nerves before we all piled into buses for the short drive to the tarmac, where a C-17 awaited our boarding and eventual departure.
My second trans-continental flight in two days was not nearly as comfortable or familiar as the first. Boarding the C-17 went rather quickly, as the lack of windows and exit rows made your seating choice arbitrary, and there were no overhead bins to slow you down.
The stewardess’ skirts were replaced by less-flattering green jump-suits, who instead of handing out ear-phones to enjoy the in-flight movie, gave us ear plugs to save our hearing during the extraordinary loud five hour journey. Our lunches were served in a brown paper bags and were eaten off of our laps, which doubled as tray our tables. Luckily, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was not very messy, because my T-shirt took the place of the warm, moist towelette.
The sole lavatory was located in the front of the plane, right next to the water coolers, and these two lines merged as people waited to fill their Nalgene’s and/or the plane’s holding tank. Although no one really understood why, we could not flush the toilet for almost two hours after takeoff as we allowed it to “build up pressure.” This made for an extremely fragrant, ironic, and, I thought, humorous scenario.
It wasn’t long before the cockpit tours ended, bathroom line cleared, and paper bags made their way to the trashcans. We bundled up, then buckled up as we made our final descent and prepared for landing. The anticipation of our arrival was heightened by the absence of windows and the disorientation that accompanies it.
That million dollar question was finally answered when the wheels touched down and grinded along the frozen, jagged, ice shelf, overpowering the sound and vibration of the four jet engines which safely got us to Pegasus Air Field.
We taxied for some time before the plane finally came to a stop and our seat belts were removed. As the steps were lowered and we began to file out, your skin knew you had arrived long before your eyes could verify it.
The first things to freeze were the tears, quickly followed by the tips of my fingers, then the snot in my nose. No matter how long or by what means you mentally and physically rehearse, nothing can prepare you for the -40°F temperatures we first encountered that afternoon.
The slow drive into town was spent scraping the frost off the inside of the windows, as it was hiding some rare and beautiful nacreous clouds that were visible during the few short hours of twilight that afternoon. Their iridescent colors shone in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape, and much like a rainbow on a stormy day, these mother-of-pearl skies brought us a sense of affirmation and confidence.
Eight miles later, this oil-slick in the heavens departed, as our attention focused on the metropolis that resurrected itself among the mountains ahead. Although this new land was industrialized and mechanical, it was also self-sustaining and alive. It was a different shade of beautiful, and would serve as my home, family, entertainment, and livelihood for the next six months.
As we approached town, the pictures that were once vague in my mind became focused and concrete, and although I was a foreigner to this new land and climate, feelings of calmness and familiarity came over me.
It as if I had been here before, and this moment of déjà-vu continued as our entourage pulled into town, and was greeted by those who had not seen any fresh faces or vegetables since February.
As names, hugs, and handshakes were exchanged, the roots that hold this all together had already begun to grow, and we were quickly being thrown into the mix of people and personalities that make this such a special place.
The world converged upon us. More than just lines of longitude, the diversity of ideas and attitudes combined to form an atmosphere of vigor and verve, and although we were almost at the bottom, I felt like I was on top. We had arrived to McMurdo Station, the trading post for those venturing to all points of this frozen continent. The months ahead would undoubtedly be filled with new encounters and experiences, and only from my willingness to absorb, learn, and grow from them all could I be compensated for everything it took to finally be here.
On September 4, the city of Christchurch was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. While there was little damage to the USAP facilities, and no delays are expected for the coming of mainbody, many people at McMurdo were deeply saddened and concerned for our friends and neighbors to the north. Please keep the residents of Christchurch and the surrounding area in your thoughts and prayers.
A recent report suggests that Telluride, Colorado tops Los Angeles for America’s worst air quality. Yet, even as the wildfires burned outside Telluride at this year’s event, it was the combination of cotton-wood pollen and large, puffy-white marshmallows that filled the sky during the Yonder Mountain String Band show Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
This historic festival drew such bands as Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, KT Land, Bruce Hornsby, and many other prolific noise makers on the same grounds as their historic counterparts have been playing for the last 39 years.
Neither the smoke, nor the confectionery sugar could stop the crowd from jamming their afternoon away to the sights and sounds at Colorado’s most notorious, and out of the way Bluegrass Festival.
“It was one hell of a show” as someone in the crowd yelled during a brief intermission between Saturday’s heavy-hitting line-up of Bluegrass Musicians.
The weekend hosted other such acts as John Fogerty, Leftover Salmon, John Prine, the Punch Brothers, the Devil Makes Three, Allison Kraus, and many more.
If this year’s festival was any indication of the quality future acts, it’s safe to say that you should book your tickets for the 40th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they too go up in smoke.
Other upcoming festivals include:
- RockyGrass Academy - July 22-26
- RockyGrass - July 27-29
- The Song School - August 12-16
- Rocky Mt Folks Festival - August 17-19
- Kinfolk Celebration - August 24-25
Photo credits: Photo one Telluride Bluegrass site, all other photos from JasonLombard