Gearing Up for Season Two

Here we go again! Most of our gear has been stored for us at McMurdo Station, but this week we packed what we need for a successful second season. Besides replacing expired chemicals and disposable field supplies, we packed some “must-haves” that you might not expect…

1.      Tea packets and instant coffee
We spend some long days in the field, and it is helpful to have your favorite pick-me-up to power through the day. We bring hot water in heavy-duty thermoses, so we are able to make our favorite tea or coffee for a burst of warmth and caffeine at the same time.

2.      Candy bars
You might think we are joking to say these are “necessary,” but quick calories are actually very important in the field. Because it is so cold, we burn calories very quickly, and sugar provides a quick burst of energy and helps us operate at our best. Proceed with caution, though… The extreme cold can make teeth brittle, and one of our team members cracked a tooth on a Snickers bar last season!

3.      Beef jerky
Packed with protein and lacking the ingredients that could trigger food allergies in some of our team members, this is a useful snack to keep us from feeling hungry during the long haul.

4.      Sunblock
The sun never sets when we are in Antarctica, and the UV rays bounce off the snow and ice from all directions. We pack some heavy-duty sunblock for the team to share, which we mostly use on the parts of our face that can be exposed while we work.

5.      Vitamins
McMurdo Station does an amazing job of keeping us well fed, but the lack of “freshies” (fresh fruits and vegetables) can lead to some vitamin deficiencies, which makes us feel tired. So we pack some multivitamins for the team – gummy vitamins, of course!

6.      Shampoo and conditioner
These are heavy items and we have a weight limit for our luggage (for a three-month stay!), so we pack some shampoo and conditioner for our team members to share when we are back at the dorms and have the chance to refresh.

So you’re probably asking yourself, why are they packing in June? Well, my curious friend, we will be driving the gear down to Port Hueneme, where it will get loaded onto a cargo ship for transport across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. The trip takes quite a while, which is why we are gearing up months ahead of our own departure. At the International Antarctic Centre in New Zealand, it will get loaded onto one of the military planes for the flight to McMurdo. We will not be far behind!

Written by: Heather Liwanag

Heather Liwanag