The Polar Project » Keeping it Real

Thomas Mulcaire entering ICEPAC in the windy snow mist

Day 21; February 12, 2009; Vesleskaervet, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica
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Tonight would be my last night sleeping in ICEPAC on this trip. The wind had picked up, and while ICEPAC remained calm and firmly poised against the 20+ knot winds, it was not impervious to the cold air. Deeply inside two sleeping bags, I was still tensely chilled in the biting temperature.

There are few things quite as humbling and centering like sleeping in a tent in Antarctica. Out in these harsh elements, one is called to be completely present with the force of this icy, windy continent—one must stay mindful, or face severe risks. Thomas, 1stborn and I have been remarking that living in ICEPAC, verses at the main base, puts one in this mindset. It has been aligning us with the reality of where we are on the earth. Our new motto for ICEPAC: Keeping it real in Antarctica…

One of my goals here in Antarctica this expedition season was to explore the possibility of the ICEPAC structure, in tandem with its wind/solar power, as the living space for my proposed 30-day field expedition for the production of The Polar Project. I need a structure that can house 6-8 team members, store our provisions for the potential month-long recording time, and provide workspace for monitoring the equipment, footage and audio. When Thomas and I first spoke, the intent was to come and see it work in the field first hand. The experiment was to live in the space for as long as we could once it was in operational order.

Although shorter than we had originally hoped, the time I spent in ICEPAC gave me ample opportunity to consider its potential for The Polar Project’s field structure. I believe the structure itself is a genius design in many ways. For example, the geodesic skeleton and the ovular shape made it completely feasible in strong winds. The harder the wind blew, the stronger its grip of the earth—even in the fiercest winds we had on this trip, the core structure didn’t even so much as vibrate in the wind!

There are several key things that I have been considering which would help regulate the temperature better from day to night, as well as keep it generally warmer. With a bit of innovation, the 2.0 version of this extreme weather habitat should be the perfect home for The Polar Project.

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