Happy Camper

Thu 22 October 2009
By scott

I just finished uploading the picture to my facebook photo album.

It was a lot more fun and easier than I imagined. I kept warm. My toes surprisingly gave me no problems. My hands, of course, had a little. Because you have to take your mittens off to do some things. I had thin glove liners on tho, so they were never completely exposed.

We started with setting up the two big Scott's tents. next were the little mountain tents, and then a wind wall to protect them. at the time we built the wall, wind was actually perpendicular to the wall, but the guide told us most bad storms come out of the south-southeast.. i think when we woke up in the morning this was true. i didn't have any problems with the wind trying to take my tent away at least. :)

we dug out a bit for the kitchen area, as kind of a counter and a row of seating. kept 2-3 pots of snow heating. 1 was for the boiling out water to make hot chocolate and dinners. dinner was a dehydrated bag of terakyi chicken.. just had 2 cups boiling water, wait 10min, and enjoy. mmhmm. i ate mine at the top of my dig-out shelter. it had no taste i think, but that's ok :)

Many in my group dug their own shelters. A LOT actually. 4-5 tents only had 1 person in them, including one of the big Scott tent's that sleeps 4! that must of been nice. I dug at mine for like 3 hours and threw a sled on top and said, "F- that, was fun to build but I'm not that crazy" and put my sleeping bag into the tent. I had the tent to myself anyway. I think that's only reason I started to dig, kinda didn't wanna share my sleeping area. I dunno how I'd have made it with a roommate in that lil tent. Getting out of things and into sleeping bags was not very simple with cold hands.

During the night I may have passed out for a bit, but was pretty steady up until 2am. It was still light out. I had my neck garder over my face to keep the light out, but all the shoveling kept me kinda active I guess. So after 30min of pondering, I decided I'd get out my bag, throw on my frozen boots, and go pee. I ran back to help generate heat, because the sleeping bag ain't gonna keep warm what wasn't warm before, right? Much more comfortable after that. Found out I had the bag on all jacked up and sideways, I moved my big red jacket to better serve as a pillow, figured out the drawstring to keep the gap around my neck smaller... So getting up to pee was a fantastic idea. :) I still had to sleep on my back, which I hate and its still aching now after 2 warm showers.

Tearing down camp was hard. My goggles and glasses froze, so I kept my glasses off. We used deadman tiedowns for the tents, where you bury a stick horizontal in the snow and tie off to that, so there were lots of holes in the morning to trip in from those being dug up. heh. Conditions were pretty bad. Usually there is a white-out drill where we put buckets over our heads and try to find someone... We got to skip this exercise since we basically done it already. :)

After that, we didn't come right back home -- that's the worse part. hah, knowing it's over, but staying outside in a hut which had a burner going, but wasn't heated like a building would be. Best part was being out of the wind tho. In there we did the debrief, talked about our shelter and hardships, and then learned about radios.

We didn't setup an HF radio, due to conditions, but the guides had one setup from the previous day and we checked it out. Called Mac Ops and asked if South Pole station was operating. They said they operate starting at 7am and we can reach them at 7.995MHz. We tuned in, called out, and nothing. I said try speaking loudly, and we got 'em!! I was impressed with it, since the antenna was low and who knows which direction it was pointed. The operators knew each other, the one on my end was going to the south pole. She was tickled pink. That was prob my favorite part, cos I love me some radios. 800 miles on just a few watts and a wire. love it.

anyway. I slept through dinner last night, and breakfast this morning, and I am going to lunch now.