He told me stories about the drinking and the bleakness etc. It's even worse at the Amundsen–Scott Station where he was frequently sent over the 13 month period.
I do wonder if he developed his alcoholism while being down there because of the environment or it was a trigger. He no doubt had long hidden problems and alcohol was his way of self-medicating.
He's gone now so I will never know but this article brought back a lot of memories of our conversations about his experiences down there.
It is obvious to anyone who has first-hand experience with these issues that you can never outrun your own problems. Some people flee for a while before realizing this, someone just keeps taking the delusion to its logical end. What is really needed is an acceptance that it's okay to have issues and that in most cases, they can actually be treated.
P.S. also bumped into yesterday's jwz post http://www.jwz.org/blog/2013/06/how-to-drink-in-antarctica/
The Q & A bit here ("what are things you wish you brought?") seems to list a fair amount of booze/booze related items. http://www.bigdeadplace.com/ask-an-antarctican-2/
> You may believe that you are only going to Antarctica for one season. Though that may be true, it is not. Antarctica will pierce you in the heart, and even if you don’t come back, you will think about it off and on, probably for the rest of your life.
9 months isn't that long, and I can't imagine wanting to spend all the time drunk, rather than learning about all the interesting science going on. Plus, obviously, Internet.
You wouldn't "fall in the support vs. beaker camp", you would be firmly in the beaker camp. It's more of a "somewhat intellectual" vs. "manual" camp (also vs. "military" in our case, but it might not be the same for US stations). I was right between beakers and support myself, by the way.
In our case, alcoholism was a problem for some of the manual labourers, but it never went as far as what I read from this article (I didn't read everything though), probably in part because they had more restrictions on alcohol consumption than the others, and because they were only there for shorter (three-six months depending on available transportation) missions, while most everyone else have 12-14 months missions.
- You can't go see a movie at the cinema
- There's no new bars in town
- You can't go for a walk, ride a bike, go to the gym, go shopping, etc
- There's nobody besides that (small) group of researchers. People you'll have to see/tolerate every single day.
- Food is pretty much the same always
Really? That's not for me
> You can't go see a movie at the cinema
There are tons of DVDs and projectors around, never mind laptops.
> You can't go for a walk, ride a bike, go to the gym, go shopping, etc
My friend would cross-country ski over to some other countries' base (China, I think) a few times a week, snowshoe regularly, and of course there is always body weight exercises for the gym component. She would also go out with people and practice their climbing/rescue skills in crevasses.
> Food is pretty much the same always
She said it was perfectly fine, tons of vegetables.
All-in-all she absolutely loved it, and I'm still trying to find a way to get there.
Wow really? On Kerguelen island vegetables were a rarity. We had fresh fruit for one, two weeks after a resupply (from Reunion island, they were actually among the best fruit I have ever had, and not only because they were the first after and before several months of no fruit at all) but apart from that, fruits vegetables were most of the time limited to potatoes, onions and increasingly bad apples and oranges (and that's when they didn't mistakenly put the fruits and vegetables in the -20°C storage). Really, I'm not sure how they could keep vegetables much better than we could.
(Delicious fresh meat and fish all year round though, but that's because we were not in a place as extreme as Antarctica)
Otherwise, I had much the same experience, with a dedicated "cinema" actually - just a building with a rather good projector and a computer with large storage.
But some people simply cannot imagine life outside the full society with all the amenities their are used too. It's fine, and much better for everyone if they already know it before leaving.
EDIT: oh right, "a few summers". Summers have all kind of things available that you really miss in winter. Our chef actually tried to limit the amount of good things he'd cook during the summer so the overwintering personnel would have it rather than those who were there for just a few months.
I'm pretty sure all the vegetables were frozen, but IMO that's still fine.
I'm tempted to add alcohol to my local install of Mars Simulation Project. (http://mars-sim.sourceforge.net/)
Antarctica was a great experience and I would do it all over again, but honestly the novelty wears off after only a couple weeks. McMurdo might be a bit better since it is on the coast and has a much larger community. The South Pole is just cold, white, dry and flat in every direction. Feels a bit like mild sensory deprivation after a while. There is not much to do besides work, drink, and sleep.
I've applied for ASC tech jobs but have never gotten an interview. I keep trying even if part of me thinks I have to crazy to want to go.
And in particular: