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Countdown T-1 days

December 4, 2010

By Ben Allen

After all these days of waiting, the day we’ve all been waiting for finally approaches. It’s been a hectic few weeks trying to get all the gear we need for the trip – because even though most of the things are sponsored by the lovely organisers we still need to get some stuff on our own, and equipment for an Antarctic expedition is not something which can just be plucked off the streets.

Running through a checklist of everything I need to keep me safe down there, It strikes me at just how much specialist equipment is needed. Most people’s first concern would probably be: ‘what do I need to keep warm?’. Though undoubtedly important, something most people would probably overlook is the need to have everything waterproof. With all the snow, ice and the travelling on the sea, especially when we disembark the Marina Svetaeva for a smaller, more versatile landing craft to get ashore, it is almost guaranteed that your outer gear is going to be drenched. In those temperatures, it is of paramount importance to have everything fully waterproofed.

 Apart from the temperature and the moisture – everything must also be windproof. Wind might be refreshing in Hong Kong, especially as a light summer breeze – but in the icy expanse of the polar regions wind is a huge problem that all venturers have to take very seriously. Wind, by constantly taking away the air around you and refreshing it with new, cold air, means that the effective temperature is lowered significantly, known as ‘wind chill’. If any of this blows through your outer layer, then chances are you wouldn’t be able to survive very long!

A nice thick pair of gloves is also essential – waterproof, windproof and of course warm, they are especially important because otherwise your fingers would freeze, turn black and eventually drop off – something known as frostbite.

All these wonderful (and expensive!) qualities make the equipment bulky too – which is a challenge when the airlines in Argentina only allow a maximum of 15KG in weight allowance. The trick is to take just enough to survive until we got onto the boat, where we will be able to wash our gear with onboard washing machines.

But, now, everything has been packed – passports have been checked, and the final countdown begins!

 Antarctica here I come!

Read more about Ben’s trip

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 8:45 pm

    I think you forgot to mention anti-glare sunglasses. The sunlight reflected from the snow can easily make someone blind.

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