15 November, 1996

November 15th, 1996

Happy Camper School

We awoke to a beautiful day. Today we started snow craft, an overnight course designed to familiarize people with the

peculiarities of camping in Antarctica and with field safety. We reported with all of our ECW at the Field Training Center at 9:00 am. The course began with a description of the basic survival bags that are issued for all flights and field camps. These include sleeping bags, tents, stoves and a small medical kit. The also have emergency rations and other useful items. We also discussed hypothermia, one of the most dangerous conditions that a field party member can experience.

Afterwards we went out by Nodwell, a tracked snow vehicle that resembles a cross between a truck and a tank covered in fluorescent orange paint, to snow mound city where we will be spending the night. We drove slightly beyond, to the instructor's huts. In the huts we had lunch and went over a description of stoves. Afterwards it was back to snow mound city.

We were split into groups of seven. First our group built a snow wall. Then we put up a Scott tent, which is still the standard issue for the Antarctic program. The tent resembles a pyramid and is large enough to sleep four. You can even cook in it if you are cautious of carbon monoxide. We also put up a mountaineering tent, which was a geodesic dome shape that could sleep two.

Then we quarried around 40 blocks for an igloo. After the blocks had been dug out, we scribed a circle using a compass made from a piece of rope. We built the blocks up in a spiral, cutting the top of each so that they would be slanted slightly into the center. After we completed the dome, with someone inside supporting the blocks, we dug them out. The entrance actually is lower that the floor of the igloo, to provide a cold sink. Inside we hollowed out a sleeping area. It was large enough to sleep two, so I actually spent the night in the igloo.

Afterwards we melted snow on the stove for hot water and had dehydrated meals for dinner. Not bad at all. Then some of us went cross country skiing. The snow was great, but one of my skis was broken, so I didn't go very far. Besides by this time I was exhausted. I opened up the sleep bag I had packed at the instructors hut. Inside was two foam pads and a mummy style sleeping bag with a liner. I was very comfortable and warm all night.

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