Midway Weather

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recommended packing list for Antarctica

So you signed the contract, eh?  Think this is going to be a 'grand adventure'?  Perhaps I can change your mind ...

A 'nice' room in building 155

The first year 'on the ice' you'll likely be housed in building 155.  The small rooms only have SIX people in them, while some of the larger 'transient' rooms have up to 30.  Both my rooms in 155 were next to the bathroom [drunk kiwis banging the door and puking at 2AM] and one was directly underneath the lounge.

But if you REALLY want to go, let me at least help you with the packing

Recommended packing list for McMurdo, Antarctica:
-Bring lots of liquor [have some mailed and/or ship some more from Christchurch].  Only beer and wine is sold in town and liquor is a valuable bartering tool.  Take this to heart even if you don’t imbibe.
-Any over-the-counter medications, condiments or bathing/ body supplies you would normally use.  The store has very limited supply of all and it is usually sold out within a month of your arrival for the entire season.
-athletes foot powder or cream.  You’ll need it.
-stickers.  Every surface needs a few extra from your favorite coffee house or climbing shop.
-Costumes, lots of them.  Every weekend is a costume party at a different department.
-A fleece hat to make you stand out [and is comfortable/warm].  Otherwise everyone looks the same when they are wearing standard issue boots, pants and jacket.
-shower sandals and robe [nothing nastier than dudes walking the hallway in a towel. Disregard if you are a Guard-baby or beaker since they get their own bathrooms]
-dryer sheets [laundry detergent is provided free]
-domestic calling card [none are available for purchase in Antarctica.  All outgoing calls join the telephone network in Denver. If you’re smart, you could get a GoogleVoice number in Denver, then get FREE calls out of McMurdo]
-leather wax [good for boots, gloves and moustaches.  I prefer Obenoffs, but some folks get away with SnowSeal]
-a few small Tupperware to load up in the galley when freshies actually arrive
-Other than that, you’re set.  You just need to add your skinny jeans and a bunch of your lame t-shirts with sarcastic logos.  Consider that many people never venture outside building 155, except to make the 10 step saunter to either of the bars in town.

Recommended packing list for Dry Valleys:
-All of the above, plus … um, nothing.  Suck it up.  You’re only going to be out there for a week and it is just a half-hour helicopter ride back to town if your crap your pants.

Recommended deep field packing list:
-All of the above, plus
-Byrdcamp.com is the best site for an overview of what to expect.  WAIS is nicer than Byrd and PIG is more ‘rustic’
-good coffee
-Smart folks keep 3-4 baby wipes in a sandwich size ziplock bag inside their jacket.  This allows for a very pleasant cleaning experience after the outhouse with a warm wet wipe.
-Lots of podcasts [LOTS!!!], movies and TV series
-Tent attic and lots of 5-7mm cord to string up drying lines in your tent
-Down booties
-Noise cancelling ear buds [Sony makes a really nice pair]
-leather work gloves [the CDC issued gloves don’t last a week if you are actually working]  I’ve always used fleece lined leather work gloves with a couple layers of Obenoffs put on throughout the season.
-Gold Bond powder.  Keeps those undies & socks you’ve been wearing for a week fresh as roses
-pack towel
-lip balm [dermatone w/ zinc oxide] and sun block [30 SPF is PLENTY]
- short wave radio capable of receiving single side band [SSB] if you want to listen to: NPR, BBC Asian or south American stations
-LOTS of  smartwool socks, synthetic undies, long undies and fleece liner gloves [buy all these yourself, the ones from the CDC aren’t worth getting issued]
-Consider a roll up PV [solar power].  Some folks have ready access to powered structures; others have to fight like rabid dogs for the few available outlets in the galley.
-Ski goggles and sunglasses [polarized] w/ nose guard for sun protection.

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