4 January, 2000
Today we have come back from 2 days of happy camping out on the Ross Ice Shelf.. Each person that comes here must go through this basic training course to learn the essentials of Antarctic survival. It is parcticularly important if one is planning on working in a remote field camp where you actually stay in tents. (That may be my situation) The course consists of some classroom time discussing hypothermia and frostbite, use of HF and VHF radios, what to do in a "Herby" (hurricane force blizzard) and then of course the fun part, building snow shelters and sleeping outside.
The shelters we constructed included mountain tents , snow caves, and Scott tents. I chose to sleep in the Scott tent because I wanted to experience Robert Falcon Scott's trials and tribulations. ( Scott reached the pole on foot , but died in his tent on his return.) Actually, the Scott tent was very large and comfy. No suffering there !
We built large walls of snow blocks to provide a windbreak for the tents. This is crucial as 80 mph winds can drop off the high Antarctic plateau. In such an instance, it is best to dig a snow cave or quinzee.
The snow cave was fun to build. We piled up all of our gear, then proceeded to bury it under a few feet of snow. We packed the snow down, then let it set up. A couple of hours later, we burrowed into the mound, and excavated our big duffels. This left large air spaces which we then widened out . One of these snow caves held all 18 people in our group !
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