16 December, 1998
I have just returned from Happy Camper school. At happy Camper School you learn how to take care of yourself and the people you are with while living and working in Antarctica. There were 14 of us in this class. We spent some time learning about frostbite (don't warm up the frostbite, unless you can insure that it will not refreeze), hypothermia (drink fluids, dress appropriately) and the importance of communication within the group and with the base that you will check into. In our case that will be McMurdo - so it is called MacOpps.
After our lectures, we put together our sleep kits - two pads, a nice sleeping bag, and a fleece liner - like a blanket for the bag. Then we drove to a place out on the Ross Ice shelf about 7 miles from McMurdo called Snow Mound City.
We Learned how to pitch a Scott Tent - the kind of tent I will be staying in in Beacon Valley. To iunsure that the stakes stay in, we learned how to do a "deadman." This involves placing the stake at an angle to the tent, buried in the snow. You can really yank on this kind of anchor and the tent won't go anywhere.
Then I got to do something I've always wanted to do- I learned to make an igloo!!! The woman who was our teacher is Anne Dela Vera. she works here for ASA, but in 1991-1992 she was a member of the first female team to make it to the pole overland.
Anne has substantial outdoor experience and has done many interesting treks - including skiing across Greenland, canoeing in the high Arctic and she loves to canoe in upper Minnesota.
After we built out shelters, well then we slept in them!!
We did not even eat dinner until about 11pm and then we crawled into our shelters to den. I slept in a previously constructed snow mound and it was warm, cozy and quiet. Around 8 we all woke up and made breakfast out on the ice shelf behind a wind break we had constructed of snow blocks. We were really quite comfortable.
During the night, a storm roared through "herbie alley."
This is the
corrider between White Island and Black Island. You look south as you look at these two islands, so the bad weather, or herbies, come from the south. I was amazed when I crawled out of the snow mound to see that I couldn't see anything!! We had incredible weather - condition 2 which means that there are restrictions as to what you can do due to winds and poor visibilty.
After breakfast, we learned how to put together the HF (high frequency) radio and all the antennae and solar panels. We got to call the South Pole, Siple Dome and McMurdo. the weather at the pole was light winds and 30 below. Although we were cold, it was only in the upper 20's(plus).
I went to helicopter training which involved watching a video and practicing using the seat belt. This is so that the pilot doesn't have to help the passengers with something so trivial.
Dr. Marchant has arrived and it looks like we will head out to the field tomorrow at 9 am.
So you may next hear from me in about 3 weeks if the weather breaks. Signing off now
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