Monday, November 30, 2009

Man Camp

The Ice Runway

Near the end of each Austral winter in Antarctica, just after the first few sunrises in late August, we have a short season called Winfly or winter fly-in. The population grows from 100-200 to 400-600. At mainbody in early October (when I came), the population jumps to around 1,000. For the rest of the summer, it will fluctuate between 975 and 1,075.

The population at McMurdo with male and female percentages to let you know your odds.

Those fluctuations can be heavily weather dependent because we are the launching point for everyone heading to the South Pole, US deep field camps, and, sometimes, foreign bases. This year, we had terrible weather in October so very few flights went out. South Pole flights were behind 1-2 weeks. Some West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) people were delayed over a month. When fifty Australians flew in on their way to Casey and were delayed, our population maxed out at 1,107. They had to delay people in Christchurch because we just didn't have enough bed space.

The bunk room, commonly known as Man Camp.

I'm probably wrong, but I feel like the people in my dorm are the first ones to know, outside of housing, when the station maxes out. Our quiet, 44ish person dorm suddenly has 70 people in it, most of them male. Our lounge is overflowing and the men's bathroom is a mad house. The reason is that we have the bunk room, commonly called 'Man Camp.' The bunk room has fourteen bunk beds so that it can sleep 28 overall. Since it is meant as transitory housing, they don't have any dressers and are forced to live out of their bags. No, thank you. Not unless I am camping. Things have mellowed out now and will hopefully stay that way until vessel offload in late January.

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