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16 November, 2003

A Trip to the CDC

In Antarctica the proper clothing is a must. Warm, dry clothing will reduce the likelihood of one getting frostbite, hypothermia, and snow blindness.

Today our team had our appointment at the US Antarctic Clothing Distribution Center (CDC). After a brief safety video, we reported to our designated changing areas to try on our issued Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) Gear. Two rows of orange bags, each one tagged and labeled, contained all our gear according to the measurements we sent over the summer. Every arcticle of clothing had to be tried on: 4 pairs of wool socks, two pairs of long underwear (light and med weight), wind pants, field pants, neck gators, glove liners, wind parka, bunny boots, down parka, goggles, and a variety of gloves, mittens, and hats. Even though I've dressed students in sample ECW gear this Florida girl still had lots of questions. "Is this the front or the back of the hat?, Does one wear underwear under their long underwear?", "I thought the fleece jacket went under my wind pants!"

An hour and half later, and numerous exchanges, my gear is sorted and repacked. One of my bags contains all the gear that I am required to wear on the trip down. This bag will be my carry-on. The second bag contains all the rest of my ECW gear and is checked, along with my duffel bag containing all the items I brought from Florida. I will not see my checked baggage until I land in McMurdo. Since the weather in Antarctica can change in an instant we are instructed to keep a set of extra clothes and toiletries just in case we don't fly out, or worse yet, are boomeranged back to Christchurch mid flight.

Tomorrow we have to report back to the CDC at 06:30 for our 9am flight. I think I will try to enjoy my last few hours of warm weather, greenery, and dark nights. Tomorrow my adventure really begins.

The sign outside the International Antarctic Centre

Entrance sign to the CDC

Examples of our issued Extreme Cold Weather Gear. Why do we need so many different types of hats and gloves?

Our orange bags of ECW gear await us

The warehouse containing all the ECW gear

The manifest posted in the CDC showing that we are scheduled for tomorrow's flight

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