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Hillary Tulley - What to Take for Working at a Remote Field Site

What to Take:

  • Make sure you take copies of prescriptions - whether it's medicine or for glasses.

  • Go to US Customs near you and get proof that you have purchased your cameras, computers, binoculars etc in the US so you don't get stuck with a duty on return!! Pack the documents in your camera case or computer bag. You will go through Kiwi customs in Aukland.

  • I did not take a computer - find out from your group if this is a good idea. Would have been useless for me.

  • Take your passport with you to Antarctica. You need it to return to NZ.

    1. Antibiotic and anti-fungal creme (one small tube of each is sufficient) I did not have a problem with either - but everyone else in camp did. You will have a personal first aid kit and larger field ones - but nice not to have to ration these creams.

    2. Walkman and a bunch of tapes (copies cuz of sand) plus many batteries. If you can find a manual tape re-winder - take that - it will also save on batteries. A nice bit of alone time before sleep.

    3. Take a manual camera + some extra batteries for the light meter. I never needed to change my battery though. I took a variable lens, a wide angle. I did not use any special filters, but if you will be on total snow - might need a polarizer.

    Take some other cameras too. My point and shoot experienced an electrical event and died within 36 hours of arrival. The bigger the battery the more success you will have with it.
    Wrap the camera in a ziploc to protect from blowing rocks in the valleys. You can buy some disposable cameras in McMurdo (probably).

    People told me no to a digital - this was very bad advice. it would have been fine. Just keep the cameras next to your body and in a zip-loc. (Take extra disks!! in a zip-loc of course)

    You decide on a video camera - I don't think it would have been good in my case except on the Icebreaker.

    In the tents either hang the cameras up or keep them in your bag. The temperature in the tents are very stratified - one day it was -10 C on the floor of my tent, 9C on the cot and a tropical 22C at head level. This may cause some condensation problems.

    4. Take a bunch of big Zip-locs - this will protect everything - cameras, tapes, film from the sandblast in the valleys.

    5. Poly undies - lighter weight- depending on how active you are, the expedition weight they give you might be too hot. I did not mind using the issued undies - but some do. If that's you take two pair of expedition and one of lighter weight. Some people like silk more.

    I'd take a bathing suit too - who knows when the opportunity to take a shot of you in front of the Taylor glacier in you bikini may present itself?

    6. Hat - wind proof is the best (otherwise forget it!) ear flaps wind proof imperative for me. - I used the issued goofball hat - but again some people don't like to use the issued hats, preferring their own gear.

    7. No to hiking boots in Beacon Valley, take some tennies in case you don't get the blue mukluk liners (for in the tent). I only wore bunny boots in the field (we were out for many hours a day) I wore tennies or hiking boots in town. It can be very muddy in McMurdo at certain times in the season-waterproof boots. But each valley is different. find out from your group if they wear hiking boots or mukluks or bunnies.

    8. Books - big ones. I read Worst Journey in the World and Desert Solitaire in the field.

    9. Knife or a leatherman

    10. Baby powder for feet -Important -1 small container. I powdered my feet each night before bed.

    11. You will need your own towel in McMurdo - to save on space - I took a bath size camp towel

    12. Kite, construction paper, origami or pencils (+ sharpener). One can often be starved for color and might have some time to do art if you are in the field for any length of time. OPTIONAL

    13. Watch with digital alarm - I never wear a watch in the world - but I'm glad that I took one to the field - this way you won't miss scheduled coms (a bad thing) or forget to get up on time.

    14. Tampax - just in case you will be out a long time. Take out of the box and ziploc 'em. There are no facilities for disposal in the field (at my camp anyway). I put used ones in a Ziploc and stored the bag in an opaque plastic bag until we returned to McMurdo.

    I also went back on the pill several months before I left so I could (hopefully) manipulate my periods. It helped mucho.

    15. Sunscreen. One bottle of 45 was enough.

    16. Sunglasses - 2 pair - if you will be on the snow you might need special ones - the cost should be covered for these.

    17. FILM -
    *** Kodachrome 64 & 200 - reds (Stephanie's favorite)
    Ektachrome 200 - blues

    I took Sensia and Velvia (100) and it worked great. If you enjoy it take bw and some print film too. Best would be to have one camera dedicated to print and one to slide.

    Get smaller counts and take a lot-try for donations and strong arm someone into paying for your developing - may be able to include to the PI.

    18. Many, many gallon zip-locs for cameras and clothes. Take out of boxes for packing ease.

    19. Some people told me to take vit E oil for nose bleeding. I did not take any and had no problems although I was outside always and at about 5000 ft elevation.

    20. Lip balm with sunscreen (2) and a couple of tubes of lotion. I had anticipated horrible dry skin - but this was not the case. I over packed lotion

    21. Nail clippers, brush, elastics for hair, band aids, ibuprofen, aspirins (or whatever you like to use), Q tips

    22. Extra contact case, extra contacts, multipurpose solution - yes I wore contacts in the field- absolutely not a problem. I slept with the case in my sleeping bag - things were often frozen inside the tent in the morning so this prevented this unhappy occurrence.

    I also took 2 pair of regular glasses, and 2 pair of reading glasses.

    TAKE your prescriptions in case.

    23. stamps regular 33 centers, addresses on a piece of paper, stationery all wrapped in ziplocs. I also bought some postcards and sent them to people like the newspaper reporters, my dentist and my doctor.
    24. extra sox - put the extra batteries in there. I made the mistake of wearing some socks I brought in the field one day - this was a horrible mistake. The socks that work best in the field are the issued ones. I wore the others in the tent after that.

    25. Baby wipes - Take them out of the container and put them in double ziplocs. I took too many of these. I also took some anti bacterial wipes for my hands. I used these (sometimes!) when I handled my contacts. I never was sick nor did I get an eye infection even though we generated no gray water at all.

    26. Sleep in your hat - you'll stay warm, you can put the brim over your eyes or use eye shades if the sun bothers you.

    27. Vitamins

    28. toothbrush (take 2), paste and floss. In my situation - we either spit a plastic bag or just swallowed the toothpaste.

    29. Braid your hair- you could get this done at the barber shop in McMurdo before you go out if you are all thumbs. I knew one woman who had knee length hair and had them wash and braid here hair before she went out. I just put mine back in a ponytail. I brushed my hair every night. The guys joked about 40% hair loss. I did not experience this.

    30. WRITING IMPLEMENTS AND A JOURNAL. You will want to keep a personal journal and the public one.

    31. Dramamine maybe - will you get sick on the helos? I was woozy on one trip. Eat LIGHTLY before a helo ride. At least I would suggest taking a plastic bag with you. Bad form to toss your cookies on the helo pilot or on your PI!!

    32. Visine - your eyes didn't get that way from partying.

    33. Earplugs - the noise of the wind might bother you - or the noise in McMurdo will.
    Eyeshades - the sun bothers many during sleep - not a problem for me.

    A little about New Zealand:

    I would try to plan some time there if possible. Take a swimming suit and go to Kaikoura for dolphin swimming, shark diving and sperm whales. Great Crayfish.
    Go to the Glaciers, take your raingear, and wonder.

    Go birdwatching, bungee jumping, sailing, hiking, go south to the wonderlands.
    Kiwis are absolutely the most wonderful people I have ever met - Next to Texans of course.

    1. They are VERY diligent about CLENLINESS of gear. Make sure any hiking or camping gear is either new or spotless. They will inspect your boots and tents when you go through customs in Aukland.

    2. If you think you may want to rent a car - arrange early - Ken Coombs at Airport Rental in Christchurch gives a discount to USAP people and is a real sweetie.

    Do not be afraid to ask questions!!