Preparing for a cold night
Nothing can really prepare you for a night on the ice. So around 50 of us decided to put our names down to camp on the Antarctica ice. Mine was a last minute booking, I suggest booking beforehand as there are limited spaces. We had a briefing during our second day on the ship. We were shown a video of how to set up our tent and things to be aware of whilst camping on ice. The main takeaway was it will be cold, very cold.
It was a beautiful day and an announcement was made from one of the team Matt, “Campers get ready, the weather conditions are great and we will be camping tonight.” We headed for dinner half an hour beforehand so we could prepare for an expected cold night. We all had our final feast and anxiously waited to be called. Our zodiac groups were labelled and we were called out, group 1 that’s us.
Expedition team “Everyone ready?” a nervous “Yes” from all of us as we made our way to the ice. We collected our sleeping bags and tents ready for a night of camping at Antarctica. As we moved away from our ship all I could think was tonight I will be sleeping on ice, will I be warm enough?
We found a nice spot to pitch our tent, i’m glad my roommate had camped beforehand as I was struggling to remember the steps. Also, don’t worry if you have never camped before or pitched a tent as the team will be on hand to help.
As we were all set-up we were shown the loos, the expedition team did tell us to use them prior to leaving but if you got to go, then you got to go.
So what to do?
Fortunately, we had a few musicians on deck so some of the team performed for us. To think somewhere on a map, there is a tiny part of the end of the planet a group of people are watching a performance on the ice, it was a surreal moment.
I sat on a rock near our tent and tried to grasp where I was, at the end of the world for a moment this was my world and I was more remote than ever before. I took it all in, the good the bad and the gratitude that comes with it.
It’s hard to describe a night on the ice, you can hear the glaciers cracking, it was cloudy and for a minute I thought I was part of a film. Some of us recreated pictures from classic horror films, others just sat down in solitude and there it was a night of camping really kicked in. I was determined to take some pictures to try and justify the experience. I then was ready to sleep, I struggled a little to get into my sleeping bag and let’s just say I didn’t get much sleep. It will be cold, so wear your layers and if you have heat warmers I suggest you use them.
The next morning
I started to hear footsteps on the ice, it was time to wake up. I rolled out of my tent and looked around. We did it, we camped a night at Antarctica. The ice was so beautiful and what a scene to wake up to.
We all began packing our tents and sleeping bags away and waited for our zodiacs to take us back to the ship. It was an overwhelming moment, how do I explain a night on the ice? Well, I can only try. As we made our way back, the team were very welcoming “You guys did it”, a nice warm hot chocolate was waiting on arrival. I felt warm again. We made our way to breakfast and another day on the Antarctica expedition awaited.