While the summer season is starting to wind down, there are still opportunities to recreate. One day a couple of weeks ago, Richard and I both won the lottery to go out on the McMurdo Ice Shelf and play in the snow.
The trip is called Happy Camper. Although there is no overnight camping involved, the group goes to a spot where people are trained in winter camping. The spot is called Happy Camper, as well.
Our group met at 6 p.m. It had been snowing all day. The van ride out onto the ice shelf was slippery, but our driver was skilled and we made it out to the proper spot. From our parking spot along the ice road, we walked about 15 minutes north to Happy Camper. There was about 6 inches of fresh powder over the ice and it was still falling.
We got a few supplies out of the buildings at Happy Camper like a Scott Tent and shovels.
Our guides set up the tent, but Richard and I didn’t pay much attention. We got right to task: to build an igloo. While both Richard and I have spent many nights camping in snow either in tents or snow caves, neither of us had ever built an igloo.
Richard cut bricks of snow and I started piling them into a circular shape. Because my spiraling skills are rough, the igloo ended up being taller than me. I would imagine seasoned igloo builders would tell me that’s not the most efficient use of space. Also, it wasn’t until we dug down a couple of feet into the snow that the bricks really starting coming out with straight edges and really nice and compact. So, the foundation of our igloo was built with wonky shaped and rather small bricks.
Richard made bricks and I piled them for a couple of hours. Eventually, I got the top to come together. I filled in any holes with extra snow. And I manicured the interior a bit. I built a little table and carved out enough space for one person to sleep or two to sit.
While we were building the igloo, our group mates huddled in the Scott tent, helped with bricks or helped make hot cocoa.
It was a nice evening away from McMurdo, playing in the snow.