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7 January, 1997

Snow Craft School

You folks aren't the only ones in school! I have been to Waste Management School (a very important and impressive program here) and Snow Craft School today.

Waste Management school works to explain how all materials can be sorted and recycled to prevent damage to this environment from human impact. The program began several years ago when people began to realize that their own actions were impacting the vary environment they wished to study. Their presentation explains how 78% of all waste here is recycled and shipped to Washington State for either treatment or disposal in incinerators. They go on to say that Minnesota and Washington are the two states with the highest rate of recycling. Lets hear it for those states. How does your state compare to these? Do you know? How many states have a recycling program? DO you have one in your school?

There are bins for all sorts of recycling that can be found in all the dorms, cafeteria, offices,and labs. Everyone is really serious about the recycling effort. We could all learn from this example.

Snow Craft School This is a two day session that begins at 9:00 A.M. in a small hut with a display of the survival kit. The kit is extensive including tools for snow sawing,ice ax, tent, sleeping bags for two and food and stove. No one is allowed to travel alone. There is a minimum of two people for any field work or travel to remote field study sites. There are 11 people in my class. This is really a fun group of people spaning all ages and experiences. John, the electrician, is a Viet Nam veteran with loads of experience; Jon is an Antarctic Support Associate who is a firefighter and will winter over here; Mary is a 23 year old Navy airplane engine mechanic, Marion is a lab supervisor; Renee is a sophomore at the University of Illinois; Doug is a helicopter pilot and in chagre of helocopter oversight. As you can tell, some of these people are very experienced. The rules here are - if you want to go out into the field, you must go to Snow Craft School first no matter what your exoerience is. Some of the folks I just mentioned were in my group. The other group had a similar mixture of experienced people. Training included such things as what do you do with hyperthermia and how do you build a shelter in -60 degrees with 50mph winds? Well, what do you think? Should you give CPR to someone with severe hyperthermia? Why or why not? Should you move someone with hyperthermia? When? Why? Why not? What is the difference between frost nip and frost bite? If you have a toe of finger frozen, will you lose it? See if you know the answers to these questions.

Then the group went out on to the Ross Ice Schelf where we learned how to cut snow blocks and build a wind wall, build a snow mound and under ground shelters like a trench or something like an igloo. Then, each one of us was given a sleep kit,food rations and water.We will spend the night here and most of the day tomorrow. It is sunny.We divided into two teams and had the afternoon to decide what to do and where to do it. Guess what happened? We immediately had a competition between the two groups. Who could build the best shelter and get the hot water going first. The other group did the snow mount thing. There were more guys in that group and they wanted a big palace in which to sleep. A mound gets made this way. All of the sleep kits are piled up. Then a tarp is tossed over them. Then snow is packed over the tarp to a depth of about two feet. When it is solid, a tunnel is dug from either side down first, then in to the bags. Then bags are removed leaving a big cavern which is dug deeper to create a sleeping room. This is a lot of work! The guys start in. What things do they need to think about when building this mound? Try to diagram what this structure might look like. Then ask me questions to see if what you drew matches what must happen to be safe in the mound.

My group decided to build a wind wall of snow blocks with a bench on the inside, a Scott tent on one side and a wide trench with a roof on it on the other side. Then across from the wall we will put the small survival tent. What things do you think we need to consider before we begin? How should we orient the set up? Who should sleep where? Where is it safe to light the stove? How will we keep the tent from blowing over in the wind? Talk with our buddies about what your team would do, then send me your plan. I'll let you know if you would survuve the night in your Antarctic survival home. I will also let you know how my night is sleeping out. Thats all for now. More later.

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