Outdoor Safety Lecture Overview

The OSL is in the upstairs of the Crary Science Centre, the library.

It contains documents from historical and recent explorers, academic journals, governmental USAP texts, international writings and much more.

This box has some of the most recent sholarly articles written by USAP grantees.

On example of the primary texts found in the Crary Library.

Weather permitting I'm going ice caving tomorrow, and this morning I had to undertake the OSL course to be certified to hike/ski off-station. There are many recreational activities around Hut Point (where McMurdo Station is located) and several miles inland. For instance, the New Zealanders are opening up their downhill ski hill later this year near Ross Station, you can hike on several trails on the nearby ice and glaciers, there's ice caving tours, a volleball team, rugby team, mid-week poker night, dance classes, boxing class :), yoga in the chapel, if lucky some folks get to go visit the ice fishing camps to do some ice fishing and if really lucky you may get an invite to do some camping in the field. A few days back I was talking with a few people at our dining table about the Norwegian traverse that is taking place within a few weeks. The traverse is a backcountry journey from McMurdo to the South Pole. They have several vehicles going with them and they are hauling many sleds. I heard one guy saying he's been stocking up on beer for several weeks since you can only buy 2 6-packs a day at our gift shop and was upset that hard liqour has been banned because higher concentration = less weight. It can take up to 45 days to travel from Hut Point to South Pole and the trip depends entirely on the weather and terrain. If there's any sign of a crevasse they must stop and investigate, which can take several hours and who knows how many stops will need to be made. Anyways, that would be the ultimate rec. trip to do.
Our class this morning focused primarily on the eFoot plan and extreme cold weather (ECW) safety. The eFoot plan is an electronic trail mapping and planning program that shows you what trails are open and allows you to register to hike the trails. After registration you must go the Fire Department office with your confirmation code, get a VHF radio, and pick a date of return. Even if you return 2 minutes after your chosen 'date of return' you will be scolded. They say that if you don't check back in at your D.o.R., up to 50 phone calls are made around the station, and snowmobiles and helos will hunt you down. In 1986 two people were killed by falling into crevasses they came across while treking away from the marked trails, and in 1991 a person died trying to rock climb. There have been no recent deaths with the cold, even though frostbite and hypothermia do occur with newbies on the ice. ECW classes are reiterated many times just so you become aware that cold extreme weather is dangerous. I will talk more about that later.

For now, I will just show you the eFoot plan. The efoot plan shows you where you can hike such that you don't intrude upon madmade hazardous sites (several decades ago there used to be a Nuclear Power Station right next to McMurdo) or specically protected areas. Antarctica's Specially Protected Areas (ASPA) are mapped out in the Antarctic Convservation Act of 1978. http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/aca/nsf01151/start.jsp Expansions and additions to the ASPA listings are made annually. Below is a map the ASPAs.

The eFoot plan has three tabs: Route Information, Create Trip, and Confirm Trip.

To register a trip you have to first put in your contact information. One person has to be the chosen trip leader and is responsible for the party. Not all trails require you to register via eFoot and the fire department. And not all trails require you to have more than one person, even though it is wise to have a least 2 people hiking together.
Some trails are seasonal and until the trails have been checked and tested for surface conditions they will be closed. The Castle Rock trail is the longest trail we have and it's currently closed due to the snow/ice conditions. Latter on in the summer when the surface melts a bit it should be opened.
There are maps of hazardous sites on the eFoot plan map. Explosive storage, helicopter pad, and runway are the most dangerous parts around town. There may also be research sites along trails that have fragile instrumentation installed and those are also off limits, or black flagged. Follow red flags, pee on yellow flags, steer are from blue flags, and don't even think about going near the black flags. Yellow flags will be elimated next year because the NSF seeks to make McMurdo and it's recreational trails 'fully contained.' That's awesome news, but keep in mind you will then have to pee in a pee bottle. Pray you won't have to do the other.

Once you choose your trail route you can then check out the specifications of the trail, i.e distance and travel time.

One link gives you a description about the trail. It tells you what historic, research, hazardous and environmentally protected sites may be along it and when to go.

Another link shows you a picture of the trail.
After you research, choose, register and confirm to hike the trail you can then review the safety and environmental protection guides. The OSL course has a few good kep pointers on cold weather safety. If you want to maintain body heat keep in mind:

1. Radiation - body heat radiates, use proper clothing to trap it in. From experience, backup tarps can be your best friend! Wrap yourself into a cacoon in an emergency blanket or semi-thick tarp and body temperature will rise because radiative heat is trapped.

2. Conduction - touching cold things makes you cold. Don't sit on cold rocks. Don't drink cold drinks.

3. Convection - wind makes will make you colder. Once again, wear proper clothing. Hide behind a snow wall or rock.

4. Evaporation - heavy activity may make you sweat, which produces water droplets on the skin, which then evaporate and chill the skin This may also make you dehydration, decreasing blood flow and body temperature regulation. Try to maintain a general body temperature, don't be too cold and don't be too hot. If you start to sweat take off a layer to balance the internal and external temperatures.
Energy in = Energy out (more calories = more fire)

Your stomach creates a fire, this is how you do it:

1. Sugars - instant metabolic sugars, like that found in sugars, provide temporary bursts of energy

2. Carbohydrates - pastas, rice, and breads provide longer lasting energy

3. Meats and proteins - built up longterm energy reserves (I eat about 4,000 calories a day here and have not yet gained a lb.)

What I've experienced in the past: Niacin, B-Vitamins, Garlic/Chili/Cayenne/Tumeric in moderation, and plenty of water are essential elements to keep the bodies warming process operating efficiently in very cold conditions. For the years I've spent in Canada I made a brew of these things and found it very helpful. Echinacea, goldenseal, and yarrow route are good for seasonal adjustments (i.e. sinuses). Holistic, healthy nutritional foods, exercise and sleep are probably the most important medicines of all.

There's another window that pops up to refresh you with the wildlife protection policies. The key is, if the animal knows you're there, you're too close. Funny story, yesterday there was a Skua attack on station. Someone had walked out building 155 with a bowl of food and a Skua swooped down, landed on the person, and began to attack him. Later that day we had a Skua safety meeting, and they instructed us to cover all food when outside and if a Skua swoops drop and run. If there's a nest nearby wave your hands until you pass completely under the nest. Also, Skua resistant lids are being put on the food waste bins.

Finally, my grandfather has mentioned something about Northern Kentucky Students using this blog as a resource for their assignments, and Marilyn Miller from Trent University has notified me about the distribution of the blog to faculty. I just want to say that if the anyone in the world has any questions or answers, or needs any resources (i.e. specific copies of scholarly articles, references, contacts, future USAP prospect, survial tips, recipes, etc.) let me know at cody.meyer@usap.gov I'm here to personally dig my brain into everything that is happening in Antarctica, and with outside support I can further my inquiries and research, which in return will benefit the global scientific and environmental community. Dan Longboat, professor of Indignous Native Studies at Trent, said nearly every class, "Our minds are one." Collective teamwork will better our understanding and acceptance of the unknown.