When the going gets tough, the tough go camping

It’s the middle of winter in Antarctica, the temperature has just dropped below -40°C, and it’s pitch dark outside.  What do you do?  Well, you pitch your tent, of course!

Not wanting to let the opportunity to emulate the great explorers slip by, Daleen, Morgan and I spent the night camping near the base.  To add to the ambience, I took a copy of Aspley Cherry-Garrard’s “The Worst Journey in the World (an epic tale of a winter sledging journey in Antarctica alomst 100 years ago) and read passages aloud to the amusement of the others.

Despite having three people in a two-man expedition tent, the cold soon invaded everything, and although we were warm in double down sleeping-bags the temperature in the tent dropped to -32°C, which left every surface covered in ice crystals.

Although there was initially no wind, by the next day a storm was moving in and the wind rapidly picked up to 60 knots (110km/h), buffeting the tent continuously and eunsuring a constant fine rain of ice.  Eventually, it was not the weather but empty stomachs and full bladders forced us back to the base, leaving the tent pegged down and snow-picketed but at the mercy of the elements.  The shape was distorting in the wind,but she stood firm.

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