Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

WAIS Divide: Going to the Bathroom

I thought some of you might be interested in how we go to the bathroom here on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  Well, here you go. If you’re about to eat, you may want to wait.

We have three “bathrooms” – one in each of the three main parts of camps – Town, Tent City, and the Arch.

Each bathroom has two parts: pee flags and outhouses.

The pee flag has a snow block wall built around it. This is party for privacy, but also for wind. A strong wind in negative temperatures can cause real problems!

As you can see, there is a large piece of plywood surrounding the hole. It prevents the snow from crumbling in and creating a pee pit.

This is really pretty similar to any other outhouse, except the seats are made of foam so you don’t freeze to it (and so it doesn’t hold much cold).

There is artwork and poetry in the outhouses.

The poetry might get its own post later, but much of it isn’t appropriate for a general audience. 

There are two major differences between these outhouses and your typical National Forest Campground ones. First, they don’t smell much because everything stays frozen. Second, you have to watch out for “pinnacles of poo.” You can imagine what those are – I’ll spare you the photo.

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3 responses

  1. Deb

    Do you knock the “stalagmites” over with a 2X4 when they grow out of the seat? (technique used in Siberia outhouses!)

    January 29, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    • T.J. is now without email. I will have him respond when he returns to civilization 🙂

      January 29, 2011 at 6:51 PM

  2. Deb

    That means you will see him soon!!

    January 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM

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