Credit: Diana McCormack

Antarctic Heritage Trust Conservation Ambassador Diana McCormack shares her experience of Antarctic Field Training.

Everyone who comes here has to complete Antarctic Field Training, which means spending a night camping out on the ice and learning how to cope with the conditions outside of the base.  We have just finished our training before heading into the field to work at the historic huts.  Now I have been camping before, but this was camping and then some…

First of all the location is pretty hard to beat, with a stunning view of Mount Erebus just outside the tent flap.  The tents we used were the Scott polar type, and it’s amazing to think that the design of these tents hasn’t changed for a hundred years, but then they are pretty good tents!  It was really very handy to be able to stand up in the tent to get all the extreme weather clothing on.

Testing the clothing and getting used to the cold was another factor of the training.  Trying to keep track of exactly which of your 37 pockets you have stashed your gloves in is a challenge, and one I still haven’t mastered.

We built ourselves a shelter by cutting blocks out of the compacted sea ice and making a wall, which may not look like much, but made all the difference in getting us out of the wind.  Without the wind chill factor we were at -10 Celsius, which surprisingly can feel really quite pleasant with a cup of tea, good company and an amazing view.  Can’t wait to put all this training to use in the field next!

Ice shelter - Antarctic field training.

Setting up tent during Antarctic field training.

Mt Erebus in the background during Antarctic field training.

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