Going Camping in Antarctica
SOUTH POLE STATION, ANTARCTICA– On December 12/13, I did the Antarctic survival training course, also called “Happy Camper.” This course is a prerequisite for going off-base on unguided tours. Eight of us were driven to the foot of Mt. Erebus. It was a beautiful windless 37F evening.
Above Mt. Erebus was the sun with incredible sun dogs and a halo around it. This spectacle is caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere, and the north and south poles may be the best places in the world to see this effect.
Our instructor, Nick, said that we were in an excellent area for cutting up snow blocks for building structures (you use a saw). Some of my fellow campers tried to build an igloo (a major technological challenge, and they almost succeeded, but they gave up around 1:00 AM).
Some built a duplex, and I built an ice cave but ended up sleeping in a Scott tent.
The next day we were debriefed on how the night went (the low was a balmy 24F, so we were all pretty comfortable during the night), and we then completed the course (the survival training course is good for five years of traveling in remote parts of Antarctica). Overall the course was a lot of fun, and very interesting!