10 November, 1997
A day at Snow Survival School was scheduled for today. The survival school is affectionately called Happy Camper School. It is the ASA version of safety and a way to teach survival if caught out on the continent in the time of a storm. Antarctica seems to have a constant wind blowing all the time from the South or Northeast direction. It is coming from the colder regions toward the ocean.
Survival school takes one out on the Ross Ice Shelf where you discover you are now on a floating glacier high above the ocean which is found directly beneath you if the snow and ice should melt. The Shelf where we drove to was very flat but on the way there we passed Scott base which is the New Zealand station on the other side of Mc Murdo Sound. We drove past beautiful glacier crevases and slides. There are ice pressure ridges being pushed up out of the water onto the land where the two meet as frozen ice. The water here is still very frozen and the Ross Ice Shelf will remain that way while the rest melts.
The flat of the ice allows for great snow schools as there is plenty of room to run many schools a week and a season. As the weeks go on the wind here covers the course and you can start again easily. We learned to cook on a one burner small stove, build a Scott tent, a mountaineering tent, a snow wind blind and a snow trench to sleep in. The blind and trench are constructed from blocks of ice that are sawed and pulled out of the top surface of the ice. The ice/snow here is more like styrophom than snow at home. It is very dry and easily removes from the surface. Sometimes you can actually see layers in the blocks that are made. The snow and ice have a pretty blue tint as you move into the ice from the pressure of the top snow onthe bottom causing the air that was trapped inside to be released. The spaces between the "firn" are smaller and thus the light waves being reflected back are the blue range and not all light.
The beauty of the area far reaches any thing that I have seen before. On one side is the Discovery extinct volcano along with White and Black Islands. Scott Base, the New Zealand base is seen in a distance distinct in its green color. This must be the only green that is seen here as most is blue, brown where rock peeks through or the white and blue of the ice and glacier. The glaciers and there crevasses or slides can be seen in all directions. On the other side from us is Erabus- an active volcano that is playing shy the first day as it is covered in clouds.
After a meal of dehydrated food and chocolate bars - with lots to drink since noone wants to get dehydrated, we retire to our sleeping quarters of choice. Being the cowered of having things over my face I retired to the Scott tent for the night. As you drift off to sleep, you can hear the wind howling all around you. In the morning - hopefully someone will come and shovel out the opening of the tent so you can get out.
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