What it's like to camp in Antarctica

Camping out in -25degC weather, several kilometres in the middle of nowhere, certainly comes with some challenges.

Before we could be set loose in Antarctica, Team Newshub (presenter Samantha Hayes, camera operator Grant Findlay and myself) had to spend a night on the ice with only what we could bring with us.

To do so, we spent around an hour and a half pitching our tents along with the other new arrivals. The gloves constantly came off and back on as you wrestled with the equipment, leaving our hands rubbed raw and in some cases, bleeding.

Then out came the saws.

Under strict guidance, an ice mine was created and massive blocks were dug out and lugged across to what would become a 'kitchen'. In the end we had a good wall at our backs, seats and a table. It was even shaped in a rough smiley face.

The ice wall was angled to protect from the wind.
The ice wall was angled to protect from the wind. Photo credit: Breanna Barraclough / Newshub.

But then the 'night' came. At around 11:30pm, sun still shining brightly overhead, everyone tapped out. We crawled into our tents one at a time, struggling to get stripped down to our thermals and into the sleeping bags without kicking our tentmate in the face too many times.

Everything you want to be warm needs to be in the sleeping bag with you, our field trainer warned. Baby wipes, a substitute for showering, would freeze solid if left in the tent.

Your pee bottle - an unfortunate necessity when there aren't any bathrooms around - needed to pop into the sleeping bag too. So did your regular water bottle, a necessary necessity in such a dry environment.

To get to sleep, wedged in among all of my kit, I wriggled down, put a balaclava and headband over my eyes, buried my face in my arm and tried to doze off. As tired as you are, it's not an easy job when sunlight is still shining into your tent. And the tent itself is chilly.

I woke up with my left hip numb from digging into the ice, a cold breeze winding its way through the crack between my balaclava and thermal, and both knees completely seized up and immobile.

In the morning, before we had to obliterate all traces of our being there, including our beloved kitchen, we all sat down for a hot drink and watched the sun go by.

The view during the morning coffee made it all worth it.
The view during the morning coffee made it all worth it. Photo credit: Grant Findlay / Newshub.

Breanna Barraclough is a digital producer for Newshub, reporting from Scott Base, Antarctica.