Before flying to Antarctica, the Wormherders had a few days to prepare for our field season in Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is the staging place for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). From there, USAP participants deploy to McMurdo and South Pole stations.


USAP Building in Christchurch

While laying over in Christchurch, we went to the USAP’s clothing distribution center (CDC) where we were issued our customary ‘orange bags’ containing the necessary extreme cold weather (ECW) clothing and got prepared to go to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. We were each issued: parkas, windbreakers, snow pants, bunny boots, balaclavas, hats, mittens, gloves, socks, goggles, long underwear, and fleece pants, shirts, and jackets! We had to try everything on to check the fit of our gear (better to find out at the CDC if something does not fit or is not comfortable than in the field in Antarctica!). Then, we were ready to go to Antarctica!


Here’s Ruth trying on her big red parka! Looks good!


There’s so much gear to take – it gets all spread out in the changing rooms! We take everything out of our orange bags and try it all on! Here’s Diana trying on her bunny boots (Left), Ruth in the fleece pants and parka (Middle), and Sabrina in the windbreaker (Right).

The ECW gear will keep us warm, protecting our bodies from extreme cold and wind while we do our work in Antarctica. We even have to wear our ECW gear for our flight to Antarctica in case of an emergency and we need to stay warm.


Wormherders in the USAP terminal in Christchurch ready to board the plane! (L-R: Martijn, Diana, Ashley, Sabrina)


We caught our first views of the Antarctic continent from the plane!

With our ECW gear, we will be better able to stay warm and safe while collecting soil samples and performing experiments while in the field in Antarctica! Stay tuned: new blog coming soon about Snow School, which teaches newcomers about safety and survival in the harsh, cold conditions of Antarctica!