18 November, 1997
What a two days I've just spent. I can barely believe it but I have just completed "Snow Survival School" apropprately dubbed the Happy Camper School. What an event. I started at 8:00 doing the radio traing. I figured that I had better get this thing down because there is now other way to contact people here. It was not bad, I learned a lot about radio communication. I then went to the transportation center. Myself and 12 others went through a little orentation as to what to expect. They were correct, we hit about every situation that we possibly could have. We then got
into a big (Snow Cat) type of vehicle called a Nodway. Took about an hour to get us on the Ross Ice shelf where the snow and ice are about 300 feet thick We were told not to wander around and then told an ugly story about two hikers who took a short cut to the warming shack and fell 100 feet into a cravass and died less than a mile from where we were. I stayed close, I'll tell you that. We lucked out on the weather also, in the twenties cloudy but
little wind. I also made two very good decisions early. They asked who wanted to build an igloo and I declined. Six hours of hard work later, the other group was still working on it. We got into teams of four people and since I was by myself and not with an existing group I got with three Navy pilots also taking the school. They were young strong and hard working, just what was needed to help this old guy. We made a snow tunnel at least 3 foot wide and three feet deep and seven or eight feet long. The blocks from the tunnel were used to construct a roof and it really made a nice warm place out of the wind. We also made a larger similar area to pitch our tents and get them out of the wind. The wind wall was very important. We barely got it completed when the roaring winds arrived. We have excellent extreme weather gear and behind the wind wall it was easy to set up our camp-stove and boil water. We all consumed our dehydrated camp meal and then our group went over to help the other group still building the igloo. It was nearly mid-night when we were completed and I just went into the tent and collapsed. I had sawed and lifted snow blocks for hours. Not easy. I should have had more weight in my training back pac several weeks ago. The tents behind the wind wall were protected.I crawled into the sleeping bag and zzzed away. I was warm and toasty. I would have never believed I could do that. It was fine, I'm OK.
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