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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1994-95: VUWAE 39

11 Field Equipment

11 Field Equipment


Clothing: Our work necessitated standing or sitting, using a drill or hammer and drill and handling and marking rock samples. The latter could only be done with light gloves. This requires easily removable mitts or heavier gloves. The following is our experience with the various clothing items:

Handwear: We found that the windproof mitts with inners were not entirely satisfactory. They were too cumbersome to use as were the inner insulating mitts. We wore light gloves underneath, but the main problem was that when the outer was removed, sometimes the inners came off with them and sometimes they did not. It is awkward, with a wind blowing (as usually it was), trying to juggle two pairs of mitts and polypropylene gloves. The polyprop gloves were good, but could be worn unprotected, only briefly. We found the nosewipers, although cumbersome, were more suitable for outer protection. I believe our past combination, of polyprop gloves or fingerless woollen mitts over cotton glove and lined leather ski gloves or mitts were more satisfactory. For using the drill, the rubber gloves were very suitable, although after a time, the hands did get cold.

Bodywear: When drilling, it is difficult to avoid some fluid from getting splattered over trousers. It does not affect the material, but it can stain it. Previously, we had page 11 worn old thermal trousers. This time we took overalls, which we believed would be suitable protection. However, temperatures were low and a wind was nearly always blowing. The overalls over thermal underwear and salopettes were too cold. They were too tight to fit over either the windproof or survival salopettes. So most times we had to wear the survival salopettes with windproof jacket over the thermal underwear and thermal salopettes. This kept us warm but the clothing was rather cumbersome. In retrospect, I believe that for our operations, our previous clothing combination, of woollen or polyprop underwear, woollen shirt, and trousers, old thermal or windproof trousers and jacket and lightweight leggings or overtrousers was more suitable.

Footwear: Mukluks were comfortable, warm and entirely satisfactory for our work.

ii)Tentage, climbing equipment and kitchen gear: Polar tents would be hard to better. We weathered two reasonably severe storms in relative comfort and with complete confidence. We did no climbing as such but most of the equipment was useful. We used the rope as a handrail to get us over a slippery spot. We occasionally wore crampons where icy slopes needed negotiating to reach our section and on the occasion when Adam slid on to a ledge we were able to practice our belaying techniques, if rather unnecessary. The kitchen box is virtually unchanged and except for the occasional jet blockage, the cookers performed well.
iii)The ration system: Our ration requirements were more than usually complex as one member had special dietary needs. As the specially ordered items did not arrive in time, we had to select suitable items from the store and substitute for the standard. In addition, with the wider choice of substituted frozen food, it was more difficult keeping track of items. At times we ran low on staples such as sugar, egg powder and bacon or had difficulty finding them. With the old system, all boxes had the same items and there was no confusion. Nevertheless, the food was excellent. The diced pork, steaks and roast lamb were particularly popular.