Saturday, October 14, 2006

Happy Camper School

Snow School I, as it is formally called. I've been told I have the best job on the continent. And so I get sent to snow school right away. Soon we were out on the ice shelf putting up mountain tents, Scott tents (the tall pyramidal ones) making snow walls with wood saws and then making a quinzee, which eventually turns out to be an above ground snow cave. Twenty of us, all dressed in red.

The quinzee was made rapid-style by piling all of our bags under a tarp, then we all shovelled snow on it for a half hour or so, then we packed it down with the underside of our shovels, then let it settle, and finally I made the entrance with another guy while someone else went in on the opposite side to retrieve all the bags. When I went to sleep it was -10 F outside and it stayed above zero in the quinzee...not above freezing, but above zero.

Today, for part two of snow school, we did scenarios. The first, after splitting into groups of ten, was to find a lost person in a whiteout - who supposedly went out the outhouse and was overdue. So after our five minutes organizing ourselves and coming up with a plan, we put white buckets over our heads to simulate the whiteout. We tied one end of a rope to the building then went out holding each other's hands as well as the rope and began to trace an arc across the front side of the building. Thankfully we (by "we" I mean "my feet") were able to find the "person" which was a huge bag stuffed with a sleeping bag among other things.

The second scenario told us that our Piston Bulley caught fire thus taking away our VHF radio, while a storm was coming in. Our tasks were to get a tent set up, build a snow wall, get water on the stove, and communicate with "Mac Ops" (McMurdo Operations) with the HF radio. I, of course, went to the radio with a few others. We set up the antenna, similar to the one that hangs in our backyard in Sherborn - and that I hope to transmit to later this "summer," then plugged in all the cords, then made contact. It was quite fun.

That's all for now. Day off tomorrow, Sunday. Found out today that in early November I will be going to the Taylor Dome on the Polar Plateau! I'm going for a few weeks to help dig out buried fuel caches. After two weeks, me and another GA will be repaced by two more GA's. It is supposed to be cold and windy there!

Thanks for reading! And don't forget that I am still interesting in what's going on with all of your lives!


  1. seattle urmstonsOctober 15, 2006

    We are enjoying your adventure with you! Will could not believe the size of the C17. We feel decadent because we just turned on our furnace! Eliza wants you to bring back some plants for her!

    "Warm" regards!
    Randolph, Eliza, Ariana, and Will

  2. Snow school sounds GREAT and right up your alley - When will YOU be teaching it? They must all love your expertise and it must be fun for you to see how they teach... More good info for you. XOX Lol and Tots

  3. Sherborn MarkOctober 18, 2006

    Hi Benji.
    Love the info and photos....especially you in the left hand seat of the Boeing 744!!! What a natural!
    Does the extreme cold bother you? How are your living quarters? Are there any house plants to cheer up the almost flora-less continent? I love lichens and mosses.
    Love and hugs, Mark

  4. Benbo: to paraphrase Neil Young-- You're rockin' in the freezin world! Can't wait to hear how it is digging up fuel caches. Is there any way for us to send you a care package? Court

  5. dahlmartiros@comcast.netNovember 01, 2006

    Hello my name is Lucas Martiros. I go to Pine Hill School here in your home town of Sherborn, MA. I am in 2nd grade. I have enjoyed reading your blog and looking at all of your pictures. I especially liked the recent one you took of the three penguins on the ice. I hope you are staying warm and are having a excellent time and they are not working you too hard. I would love to hear from you about what the weather is like. You can send me an email:
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Continue to have fun out there! - LUKE