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15 November, 2000

Snow School 2

I chose to sleep in one of the small, nylon mountaineering tents similar to the ones we will have at Siple Dome. I thought the small volume of the tent would allow it stay warmer than the larger structures. I managed to stay fairly warm even though the thermometer read -5 C (23 F) and my water bottle froze solid.

Around 7am I awoke to the flapping of the tent as the wind had picked up. When I emerged a short time later, it was as if I had entered a different world. All I could see in every direction was white. A storm had descended upon us and the weather had changed suddenly from a situation of low wind and good visibility, designated Condition 3, to Condition 1. Condition 1 is the most severe, with high winds that whip up surface snow reducing visibility to just a few feet.

It was comforting to know that we were due to be picked up in a short time. Staying out in that weather for a long period of time would have been challenging. We managed to take down the tents and stow all of the gear without anything blowing away. Our instructors picked us up in the Delta and took us back to the warm hut for some final instruction. We all graduated from Happy Camper School.

It was a great experience. The first day was glorious. The second day was also a treat because I was able to experience some severe weather. It is amazing how quickly conditions can change in Antarctica.

Taking down a Scott tent became quite a chore in the high winds that struck in the morning.

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