Skip navigation

Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the aft tag
1

The great outdoors

Posted by Conservators Feb 20, 2014

Author: Sue Bassett

Date: 21/02/14

 

 

With environmental awareness, survival skills and effective team processes topping the agenda, the incoming AHT winter team got stuck straight into Antarctic Field Skills training following our arrival on the ice last week. This included a couple of days out on the ice shelf (in spectacular weather, thankfully), forming teams to carry out a variety of tasks and learning or refreshing some vital skills.

 

Image 1 (Small).JPG

Getting started and discussing the design

 

After selecting appropriate layers of clothing for the minus 12-degree temperature, preparing our individual sleep kits and pitching our polar tents, we set about designing and building our kitchen in which to shelter from the breeze, light our stoves and boil water to prepare our dehydrated dinners-in-a-bag. Using saws and shovels to cut and lift ice blocks, we simultaneously created a pit and constructed walls, not forgetting some seating and a bench for cooking. Being somewhat easier than it sounds, before long our far-from-perfect but nonetheless perfectly adequate little ice-kitchen took shape.

 

Image 2 (Small).JPG

Looking good - the team relaxes in the ice-kitchen

 

In we piled, and some reasonable curries and pasta dishes (and considerably better camaraderie) were enjoyed late into the bright sunlit night.

 

Good training … good fun!

 

Image 3 (Small).JPG

N-ice work!

1

Posted by Cricket

 

Date:                           7 September 2010
Sunrise:                       8:36am
Sunset:                        5:11pm
Temperature:                -33C
Wind Speed:                20 knots
Temp with wind chill:    -60C

 

Antarctic Field Training (AFT) is a prerequisite for any solo travel outside of Scott Base. It is an eye-opening experience culminating in an overnight in a tent at a site well beyond the Base.  Everyone living at Scott Base, whether their work is here or in the field, goes through this training.


There were three of us going through AFT together, Diana, Doug and myself.  We began with a slideshow presentation about the Antarctic environment, survival principles and horrible cautionary images of trench foot and frostbite – ailments we could get here if we ignore the warning signs.  We then went through the emergency bags, assembled and packed our 4-layer sleeping bag system, and were shown how to use two different camping stoves.  Finally, it was time to put on all our ECW (Extreme Condition Wear), get into the Hagglund and head out.

 

We got to the campsite around dusk, and hurriedly set about putting up three tents – one for Diana and myself, one for Doug and the third, a latrine.  With our headlamps on, we started building a kitchen shelter by first digging a trench then building a snow wall behind that offered protection from the wind while cooking.  It was a cold evening with temperatures reaching almost –40C and winds at 10-15 knots.  Cold enough that we melted snow for water, quickly ate some dehydrated dinners, sucked on a few frozen fruit sticks and called it a night.

 

Setting up tent photo Doug.jpg
Setting up the tent © Antarctica NZ/Doug

 

“Are you asleep?”  “What are you doing over there?” is what Doug must have heard Diana and I asking each other all night long.  We laugh now, but it was a cold night even buried in all those layers of sleeping bags with handwarmers in our socks.  Through the night, I often thought about what a spin instructor at my hometown gym said during a hard workout: “if you’re hurting now, you better start thinking about something else.”  I thought of the beach on one of those days when it’s so hot under the sun that you can’t wait to get inside.

 

Breakfast photo Doug.jpg

Drinking a morning bowl of Milo © Antarctica NZ/Doug

 

We stayed in our sleeping bags for almost 11 hours, leaving them in the morning to start melting snow for a quick breakfast of Milo, an “energy” hot chocolate drink, and to take down our tents.  The Hagglund came around 9am to take us home, where we arrived in time to enjoy an opposite extreme - a mid-morning coffee from the espresso machine and freshly baked biscuits with butter.  Over breakfast, we wondered how the early explorers handled such cold day after day, especially during their sledging trips.  When we’re camping, I’m guessing we’ll be relying on the hand and toe warmers to keep us strong.