Training Day

By Michael Rodriguez

One must receive many trainings here at McMurdo in order to conduct research. Tomorrow, we will be spending six ours on the sea ice learning how to be safe out there. Check back tomorrow to find out how that went. 

For today, we did Global Positioning System(GPS) training field safety training; Pisten Bully training; and recreation training. 

I neglected to take a photo of the GPS training today, but while we were route finding with our GPS devices, I had to pause and take a photo of the stunningly beautiful Royal Society Mountain Range. It is very difficult to judge distances here. They are about 25 miles away. 

Those who will be traveling away from McMurdo must take the field safety course. In a few weeks we will be traveling by helicopter to a remote site. For such trips, research teams are provided with survival kits.  Perhaps the biggest danger is that powerful storms can suddenly appear and last for days. This makes rescue impossible and can force you to hunker in your tent for days waiting for the storm to end. Some of the items include sleeping bags and pads, camp food, and a first aid kit.

The kits also include sturdy tents that we practiced pitching, and very long stakes and ice screws that can be hammered into the ice. 

We also practiced lighting and repairing  the stoves. 

Our instructor Katy demonstrating how to operate the camp stove. She has extensive backcountry experience.

Next up was learning how to drive a Pisten Bully. What, you may be wondering, is a Pisten Bully? It is a very rugged tracked vehicle that is designed for hauling and pulling heavy loads on snow. Our team will be using them to haul ourselves and dive gear across the sea ice to our dive sites. They are loud, rumbling, cantankerous machines that travel up to about 8 mph.

Our last training ended at 7:45 pm, after which Jacob and I rewarded ourselves with a trip the dining hall to have a cookie. You can get them there any time of day or night!

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