By Doug Henderson
All new arrivals at Scott Base are required to attend Antarctic Field Training. Some of the returning AHT team having done AFT over the past two years only had to do a refresher. However, Doug (NZ), Geoff (UK) – both Heritage Carpenters along with Sue (AUS) and Ciaran (Ire) – both Conservators for the 2016-17 season had to attend the full course. We had briefings on local weather, hazard identification, how to choose and use appropriate clothing – basically how to keep safe in the Antarctic environment.
The average temperature at present is around -23C so fairly cool. As part of our course we camped out overnight near to Castle Rock – not that there is any night now as we had the last sunset of the summer on Saturday 22nd October. We pitched our polar tents, organised our sleeping bags and built a field kitchen using snow blocks which we cut from the Ross Ice Shelf to provide some protection from the wind. Freeze-dried Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Curry and Nasi Goreng were all on the menu – yum!! Over dinner, sitting with water boiling on the camp stove our Trainer Mike suggested we throw a cup full of boiling water into the air – the result was a sudden crack and a puff of steam as it instantly vaporised with the sudden change in temperature – amazing!
The evening sunset colours on Mount Erebus and Terra Nova were stunning. 6:30am arrived all too soon and it was time to get up and break camp after breakfast – we had temperatures of -30C ambient overnight. Some slept better than others but all in all a great experience was had by all!!