Camping in Antarctica Day Two

27 Jan

Well, I was suprised that I actually did sleep. And at one point, I was even a bit warm. I guess all of the hard work of building the shelter, taking an evening stroll, and being outside all day helped to ensure that I would be able to sleep.

I did have one minor problem; around 2am I had to use the loo! I decided that my bladder was more important than my sleep so I quickly put on another layer of outerwear and booked it to the outhouse. It was chilly, but not unbearable. I slept much better having done that!

I woke up around 6am, well rested and eager for the next adventures of the day. I made my bed and put on some clean clothing. I headed out for an outstanding breakfast of oatmeal and hot cider. The sun was up and the sky was clear and it was starting off to be a beautiful day. Just look at this view!

This made me speechless!

After the rest of the group woke up and ate some chow, it was time to breakdown camp. We had to take down and properly put away all of the tents, the kitchen we built, roll up all of our sleeping kits and leave the areas as if we weren’t here. The group worked really well together and we got it all tore down in about 45 minutes.

The Hagluund picked up all of our supplies and we returned to the I-Hut. It was nice to be inside and warm without all of the layers of clothing.

We learned about the different radios that are used at field camps; VHF and HF. We tested our newly learned skills and called into town and the South Pole. No one answered at the Pole, so maybe they were all sleeping in?

Next we continued to practice our skills. We divided into groups and were given a scenario to act out using a variety of props (the survival bag from yesterday). The first scenario was that we were in a plane crash with 8 people. All survived the crash landing, but one of us received a broken femur: YOURS TRUELY! So I got to be tended to and treated while the others in the group had to set up a tent (around and underneath me), call for help, set up the stove, and deal with the adverse conditions. It was pretty amazing that 8 of us who hadn’t really worked together were able to use all that information and all the items from the survival bag to create shelter, warmth, and call for help. I definitely would be lucky if I were to be in that situation with such competent people around me.

Getting all suited up for the SAR drill.  I love my new smile!

Our next scenario was a Search & Rescue drill. In the event that there is a white out (happens very often down here and very quick), people can get caught and stuck outside. In this scenario, one our group members had headed out to the loo then the white out set in. Our goal was to either get to the loo and find her or determine if she was out there between the loo and the hut. We had to determine if the conditions were right for us to venture out and find her. To simulate the white out, we put white 5 gallon buckets over our head. Three of us headed out and there was atleast one person that remained at the cabin to be able to communicate with in the event we had difficulties. There was a lead person and we all used a rope to communicate (since you wouldn’t be able to hear each other with the wind) with each other. The lead and the second person used a long stick to feel the ground for any obstacles or our lost group member.

During the SAR drill...I am the one in the middle.

This was a challenging situation. It was a pretty realistic feeling with the bucket on your head and being out of your comfort zone. We learned that the marker flags could sometimes be more challening than helpful and to be sure to understand the different signals we gave each other using the rope. In the event that this was a real situation, I am much better prepared having done this drill. I am definitely more aware of how serious and dangerous this place can be.

At the I-Hut, eating AGAIN!

We headed back into the I-Hut for another snack…it seems like we just kept eating and eating! We cleaned up the hut and then headed back to the FSTP building for one more training piece.

We watched a video about heliocoptor safety. We learned the proper techniques for getting on and off as well as approaching a live helo. We concluded the training with pracitcing the helo seatbelts. I thought it would be pretty basic, but I was glad I got to practice. They are not as simple as they look.

Reflecting over the last four eight hours; I learned a great deal about cold weather survival, camping in Antarctica (or other extreme cold weather locations), and about myself. You never know just how far you can push yourself or what you are truely capable of. I never would have guessed that I would have ever been excited about camping in Antarctica (like I am now), let alone sleeping outside in a big snow trench, and surviving the night without the comforts of home (warmth, running water, good food, hot shower, etc.). Now, I look forward to the next opportunity I will get to camp out in the snow. I wonder what it’s like to camp in the Rockies in the middle of the winter?

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2 Responses to “Camping in Antarctica Day Two”

  1. ivy January 29, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    hi marci,

    i’m freezing just thinking about what it must have been like going to pee in the middle of the night.
    it’s impressive how well you survived this experience.
    i can’t imagine camping when the weather is not frigid.
    you’re memories, i’m sure will last a lifetime.
    enjoy everything & stay warm.

    sending you a big hug & love,
    ivyXOXO

  2. Cousin Karen February 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    And you’re your mother’d daughter???? Amazing!! Hugs to you…

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