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Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Chapter 15 - Happy Camper School

Before we could go to the remote field camp, we had to go to school to learn how to be safe. This survival training class is called Happy Camper School by most of the people at McMurdo. It is held out on the Ross Ice Shelf. This is one of the PRISM team members, Richard Stansbury and myself shortly after we arrived. The vehicle in the back is called a Hagglund and it was used to bring the baggage and tents to the campsite.

One of our tasks was to set up our tent. We dug ditches in the snow and put the tent rope down in the ditch. Then we put a stick or tent peg across the rope. Then we buried it all and tied off the rope. This was called a "dead man." It is supposed to keep the tent secure even in a big windstorm.

We also built wind walls out of blocks of snow. These protect the tents from wind and snowdrifts. To make them, we had to saw blocks of snow and then lay them into a wall (like a brick wall). The blocks weighed 25-50 lbs. This one is a little one I made to show you what they looked like.

We got our tent all set up and soon we will get out our camp stove and prepare dinner. Some of the other people made other kinds of shelters to stay in, like Quinzees and snow trenches.

Joel Plummer and Jerome Mitchell, who we work with, are putting the final snow blocks on Joel's snow trench. It is like a big hole in the ice that he will sleep in. We think the tent looks warmer.

This is a Quinzee that OzGold helped make. It was made by piling snow over our luggage and then packing the snow really tight. Then you pull the bags out of the entrance. It is a lot like an igloo in the way it is shaped. The light comes in through the packed snow and so the Quinzee is really beautiful inside. Lots of the group slept in Quinzees. They said they were pretty warm.


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