Happy Camper

Alvin and I took Field Safety Training Program’s two day Snowcraft I (also known as Happy Camper here) which is a basic requirement for anyone in USAP who is going to one of the remote field camps or whose job may get them in a situation where they could be stranded. It is a course in basic risk management and survival techniques, spent almost entirely outside on the ice shelf, including an overnight.

Our class (Mike had gone the previous week) was on 12/17 & 18. We all took the class on a space available basis as we really didn’t need it but it part of the Antarctic experience. After a two hour lecture on risk management and cold weather injuries, we boarded a Delta with all our ECW gear, picked up bag lunches and went out to the ice. When we got out there was a ground squall with winds >30mph but luckily it cleared up quickly. The weather turned out to be balmy (~27-35 degrees F) and after the wind died down it was a dead calm for the remainder of the class. Our instructor commented it was the best weather for the class all season.

Out on the ice shelf we learned how to set up the two kinds of tentsused here, protect the smaller mountain tents with a snow wall, dig asurvival trench for sleeping, and cook with the white-gas stoves. Alvinslept in a survival trench that night with just his ECW gear and sleepkit. I opted for a comportable mountain tent.


Alvin digs his sleeping trench

The mountain tents

The next morning we ate breakfast and broke down the camp, had some more classroom instruction in an old Jamesway hut (portable and easy-to-assemble hut, designed for arctic weather conditions ) which included the kind of High Frequency radio that is used in the UASP. Later in the afternoon we went back to the Berg Field Center, cleaned up and restocked the gear and had a short class on helicopter operations. There are many blogs on the internet if you want to learn more about Happy Camper school in McMurdo…


Dr. Sarah Das (front right) makes breakfast for the class.

Alvin making a radio call to the South Pole Station.

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