WAIS DIVIDE, ANTARCTICA: As I am learning first-hand, there is quite an adjustment period to life in the field in Antarctica. Overall, we have lots of luxuries here at WAIS Divide. Our camp is equipped with warm buildings, hot showers, laundry, and arguably the best chefs on the continent! However, learning the ropes and getting comfortable is certainly a challenge at first. I think the biggest challenge in the beginning was getting used to and being comfortable sleeping outside in an unheated tent. However, with one week under my belt, I am feeling confident and comfortable in my little yellow home!
We sleep in tents called Arctic Ovens. These tents are made in Alaska and could be considered Antarctic Ovens…especially in the morning! The tents are incredible at heating up with just the one’s body heat and the sun. In the morning, I have had temperatures as high as 65°F! That is roasting considering outside it is around 5°F (on a warm day)!
Many of the people at camp sleep in a tent, but there are some communal heated sleeping areas. The tents are really one’s only private space so almost all of the members of the camp community have opted for a space in “tent city”. I have decorated my tent with photos of my family and friends and right now, I have a few holiday decorations up. I also have some rope strung around my tent for drying my socks and hats.
Even though the tents can get warm when you are in them, going to bed usually starts in a cold tent, which means you get into a COLD sleeping bag. One trick for getting the cold out of your sleeping bag is bringing a hot water bottle to bed. A hot water bottle is really helpful and can keep you warm throughout the night. I brought my sleeping bag from home in addition to the cold weather sleeping bag that was provided to us so I am staying plenty warm and comfortable. I sleep with the clothes I plan to wear the next day so I can get into warm clothes when I wake up. I am growing to love my little yellow tent and find that no matter what the temperature is I am always ready to go to sleep when I finally make it to my tent!