Field-safety training and equipment shakedowns must be scheduled during your stay in McMurdo prior to your field deployment.
All new personnel-regardless of their skill level and experience-must complete an overnight two-day field safety course that includes cold weather camping skills, cold weather first aid, and emergency shelter building. For deep-field groups, this requirement is in addition to the equipment shakedown trip.
We strongly advise that deep-field groups include a safety guide/mountaineer who has previous Antarctic "deep- field" experience. This person should have considerable crevasse rescue experience, back country medical training, and Union Internationale Des Association De Guides De Montagne (UAIGM) or equivalent guide experience. Training and shakedown time in McMurdo is intended to add some knowledge to your group's skill level. Training includes how to use some equipment and systems that are unique to working in polar environments, such as roped travel with Nansen sleds through crevassed areas, and setting up and securing polar tents in high wind. This training is not intended to teach novices "how to be mountaineers" in two days.
Remote groups working in the field without a mountaineer/safety guide must demonstrate an acceptable level of proficiency as follows:
In glacial terrain, each member must be able to hold a fall, put in equalized anchors, escape from the system, rappel to the victim, improvise a chest harness, prussik out of a crevasse, prepare the crevasse edge, rescue a victim with a 2:1, 3:1 or 6:1 rope hoist, and be able to perform "advanced first aid."
Each field group must do an overnight equipment shakedown trip. This is mandatory and will be tailored to your group's specific needs. The equipment shakedown and field-safety training course are combined in one overnight course for Dry Valley groups. Remote groups must plan for three to four days of field-safety training/equipment shakedown in McMurdo prior to field deployment.
The Snowcraft II course is a review of cold weather camping procedures, as well as an introduction to basic mountaineering techniques. The course is designed for science parties and support personnel who will be working in glacial terrain and may be exposed to crevasse danger. This course builds on a pre-existing base of outdoor skills gained by personnel who have attended Snowcraft I training, or other outdoor training programs. Topics include basic crampon technique, self-arrest and use of the ice axe, roping up and roped travel techniques, crevasse rescue self-rescue and pulley systems), terrain awareness (walking tour through crevassed terrain), and overnight shelters.
Crevasse rescue is a multi-day course that builds on the basic glacier skills learned in Snowcraft II. The course is designed to teach and demonstrate the acceptable level of proficiency of a glacier traveler. Each member must be able to hold a fall, put in equalized anchors, escape from the system, rappel to the victim, improvise a chest harness, prussik out of the crevasse, prepare the crevasse edge, and rescue the victim with a 2:1, 3:1, or 6:1 rope hoist. The course can also be tailored to address roped skidoo travel and skidoo extraction.
The Dry Valleys simulation course is designed to familiarize personnel with the unique field conditions and survival scenarios posed by the Dry Valleys environment. The course is taught at a basic level and focuses on camping, movement, and emergency procedures in a rocky, windy, dry-cold environment. Topics covered include campsite evaluation, knots and anchors, use of stoves and radios, cold injuries and a review of field first aid, walking on scree and steep snow, environmental impacts, and helicopter put-in procedures.
Field Party Shakedown
This is a mobile course designed to test the equipment issued to your group, and to offer a review of the travel and camp procedures that you intend to use. This two to three-day course can be taught by either FSTP staff or your group's field mountaineer (when the mountaineer's qualifications meet or exceed those required of FSTP staff); generally, the field mountaineer and FSTP staff work together on group instruction. This course assumes previous field experience in Antarctica or comparable regions and does not address the fundamental subjects covered in Snowcraft I (the course may be combined with the icefall phase of Snowcraft II). The topics covered vary from group to group and may include sledging and the use of snowmobiles, rope systems for glacial terrain, crevasse rescue, campsite evaluation, environmental impacts, and radio procedures.
This is a one-day course designed for all personnel working on or crossing over the sea ice. Topics are taught at a fundamental level and assume no previous knowledge of sea ice conditions or cold weather survival skills. The topics covered include ice dynamics (the type and nature of ice cracks), crack profile and the use of Kovacs augers for profiling, safe crossing standards for vehicles, alternative shelters, the use of camp stoves, radio communications, and check-out/check-in procedures.
High Altitude Lecture/Demonstration
This lecture/demonstration is designed to familiarize personnel going to high elevations on the continent with altitude sickness--a potentially lethal disorder that is often preventable. This presentation is available to all personnel going above eight thousand (8,000) feet for more than one day. Taught at a basic level, the lecture's goal is to give personnel a working knowledge of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of acute mountain sickness and high altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema. The instructor will focus on actions that contribute to successful acclimatization and will also discuss possible responses to altitude-related emergencies, including evacuation. This lecture will be tailored to address any special circumstances presented by the mountain or region that personnel are bound for. In addition, any field parties checking out a Gamov Bag, which is a portable pressure vessel used for the treatment of acute mountain sickness, will be given a demonstration of its operation and uses.
Winter-Over Training is a one-day course designed to familiarize personnel with cold weather hazards, area familiarization, flagged routes, and emergency shelters. Topics are addressed at the fundamental level and assume no previous knowledge of outdoor skills. The topics covered include cold weather injury prevention and treatment, terrain awareness and hazard analysis (crevasses, cold weather, emergency scenarios), layering and thermal regulation, emergency shelter locations, lighting stoves and preways, flagged route familiarization, and movement on snow.
Air Crew Field Training
This is a three-day course for helicopter crews and a two-day course for LC-130 crews. Both courses will involve an overnight in the field using survival equipbment similar to that provided on the aircraft. The helicopter crews receive additional sea ice and Dry Valley exercises. Courses are designed to familiarize aircrews with the specific equipment, tools, and techniques for emergency overnighting. Topics covered include terrain awareness and hazard analysis (crevasses, cold weather, emergency scenarios), layering and thermal regulation, cold injury first aid, emergency shelters, and lighting stoves.