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Tents and Structures

Comfortable accommodations designed for Antarctic conditions

We use a variety of tents and other shelters at our Antarctic camps. They provide practical comfort and security in the Antarctic environment.

Polarhaven shelters

Our main kitchen and dining area, multi-purpose tent and guides' complex at Union Glacier are housed in bright and roomy Polarhaven shelters. These shelters are constructed of a sturdy aluminum frame with insulated nylon cover designed for polar conditions. They are 16ft (5m) wide and vary in length, up to 84ft (25.5m). They all feature insulated, non-slip floors, hard doors and windows. The shelters are passively warmed by solar radiation and have supplementary heating for cold, overcast days. Each shelter is erected at the start of each season and dismantled at the end of January when our camp closes.

Clam tents

ANI guests are lodged in Clam tents, so named because their aluminum-hoop frame opens out like a clam shell. These double-walled tents measure 8ft (2.4m) wide by 16ft (5m) long. A wooden floor is placed under each tent to provide solid footing and insulation from the snow. Inside each tent are two beds with pillows and bed linen and a small table. Because they are relatively lightweight and easy to assemble, Clam tents are also used as the main cooking and dining area at remote base camps such as the Emperor penguins and Mount Sidley. The tents are passively warmed by solar radiation and can warm to about 68F (20C) on a calm sunny day.

Mountaineering tents

Four season mountaineering tents are used in field camps and for staff accommodation at Union Glacier. All of our field tents are modified for polar use, including the addition of snow valences (to help anchor the tent and prevent snow blowing between the tent body and tent fly). These small, lightweight tents are effectively heated by solar radiation and can reach temperatures up to 80F (25C) on a sunny, warm day! Each make and model has a slightly different design that makes it suitable for specific conditions.

Ski South Pole expeditions often use single-walled, tunnel shaped, Hilleberg tents that are lightweight and quick to set up. These are important factors when you are hauling your equipment more than 600 miles (1000km) and have to set up and take down your tent each day, often in extreme conditions. The simple hoop frame allows us to partially disassemble the tent and pack it into an expedition sled, greatly speeding up the time required to set up camp each day. The tunnel shape means that the tent must be set up into the prevailing wind, which blows consistently from the Pole toward the coast. 

On Mount Vinson we tend to use Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 tents. These free-standing, double-walled tents have a more complex pole configuration, which makes them extremely strong in high winds, regardless of the wind direction. This is an important factor on Vinson, where the wind direction can change suddenly.

Runway Passenger Terminal

A heated passenger terminal and communications facility is located at Union Glacier runway. The Berg Expandable shelter provides a warm place for guests to gather before boarding the Ilyushin.

Toilets

Not everyone discusses this delicate subject on their website but, as it is a common question, we think it deserves answering. Our main camp has men's and women's toilets housed in centrally-located structures. There is a men's urinal, unisex toilet and women's toilet (see photos). All of these facilities are kept well-stocked and spotless by our camp staff. Anti-bacterial hand gel is provided for hand cleaning.

All human waste is removed from Union Glacier Camp. Urine is kept separate from feces for ease of transport. Men's (stand-up) and women's (sit-down) urinals are provided. Toilet paper is disposed of in the receptacles provided. Urine is collected in large plastic containers (IBC's) and transported to Chile for appropriate disposal. Separate sit-down toilets are provided for feces.  This is bagged and also removed from Antarctica for proper disposal in Chile.

Photos from Flickr:
Main ANI dining tent and guest accommodation area
Guides' tent, multi-purpose tent and main ANI dining tent
Guides' tent
Assembling a Polarhaven tent frame
Erecting the Polarhaven frame
Attaching the end walls
Installing the insulated cover
Inside the main (Polarhaven) dining tent
Talk inside the Guides' tent
Buffet area and drinks area in the dining tent
Dishwashing area in the kitchen
Empty Guides' tent, looking toward the kitchen
Vestibule with coat racks
Jolanta mops the kitchen pantry
Reading in the multi-purpose tent
Clam and Mountain Hardware tents
Clam guest tent
Reading in the tent
Inside a Clam tent
Stepping out of a Clam tent
Hilleberg tents at expedition camp
Ski South Pole field camp
Expedition setting up Hilliberg tents
Mountain Hardware tent below Mt Rossman
Vinson High Camp
Mt Shinn from Vinson high camp
Passenger terminal at Union Glacier runway
Inside the passenger terminal at Union Glacier runway
Men's urinal
Men's urinal, interior
Men's and women's Toilet block
Men's urinal and toilet
Women's urinal (L) and toilet (R)