Field Support & Camp Training (aka Happy Camper school)

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On Wednesday morning we headed to a 2-day field support & training class where we learned the basics about cold related injuries and illnesses along, hazards associated with going into the field, and basic field and survival techniques. This class was very important for us since we will be heading into the field (Taylor Glacier in the Dry Valleys) on Tuesday, to conduct our field work and camp for at least 4 weeks.

After an introductory talk we then took a really cool ride in a Delta vehicle to the McMurdo ice shelf:

our ride (aka Delta)

our ride (aka Delta)
inside the Delta

inside the Delta

The ice shelf is right alongside one of the two volcanos on Ross Island:

Mt Erebus

Mt Erebus

We practiced making snow blocks for protection from wind:

cutting snow blocks

cutting snow blocks

 

and learned how to properly anchor tents in snowy conditions:

Carli Arendt stabilizing the Scott Tent

Carli Arendt stabilizing the Scott Tent

Sarah Aarons stabilizing the Scott Tent

Sarah Aarons stabilizing the Scott Tent

 

We slept outside in a large Scott tent (a larger double skin tent) where we were very warm all night. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, it was very sunny and almost eerily calm at times:
industrious fellow campers decided to make an igloo

industrious fellow campers decided to make an igloo

After setting up camp we cut a kitchen out of the snow and learned how to properly setup a stove without spilling fuel:

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and then we made ourselves warm drinks and dehydrated meals (yum!). While we are out camping, it is important for us to eat a lot of calories since our bodies will be burning extra to keep warm. We also learned that the most important things are to keep hydrating, eating, exercising and to layer properly. After dinner we took a walk towards the island because the weather was beautiful but also because it is helpful to go to bed warm to stay warm all night. The next morning, we returned to our classroom on the ice shelf and learned how to properly operate VHF and HF radios, in case our satellite phone fails. To finish the day, we participated in a mock scenario where one of our team members went missing during white out conditions, and the remaining members had to brainstorm and come up with a plan of rescue while remaining safe. For proper simulation, we were sent out with white buckets on our head, since during true white out conditions, visibility is poor to none:

white out simulatio

white out simulation

We learned some valuable lessons about designating authority and listening to others.

We had so much fun camping out on the ice and we all feel more prepared for our outdoor camping field season!

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