ECW - Extreme Cold Weather Gear

The ECW (Extreme Cold Weather Gear) Issue went smoothly. It was a lot easier with a smaller group. I didn't actually count the number of items, but there are about 20 different pieces of clothes to try on and make sure they fit.

Marlene (the assistant supervisor at the CDC) gave a short talk about the process and showed a video about conditions on the ice, and importance of the ECW gear fitting, and other safety precautions, including some rather ugly photos of badly frostbitten limbs.

Starting from the top, they issue a couple of different hats, neither of which I liked, so I turned in. I had brought my own - there were advantages to having been here before.

This is one of the standard hats
(One I gave back in).

Everyone gets both a balaclava, and a neck gaiter, both are pile polypro.

Everyone gets two sets of expedition weight long under wear. (2 Tops, 2 Bottoms). Two orange bags are used to pack your gear, and for travel around the bases. Numerous sets of gloves and mittens are also included. Six pairs of Wool Socks are also part of the issue.

A Pile Jacket, Pile Pants, and set of nylon wind pants make up the other large items. A pair of wool gloves, large heavy duty over mitts, and a pair of goggles are also included.

I prefer the older style of lace up boots. They include a felt pad along the bottom of the boot, and a bootie that is worn inside. The boot itself is also insulated.

The most obvious item is the large parka. Everyone gets one, it is a very heavy down parka, with lots of pockets. It has a heavy hood, and long cuffs on the sleeves.

This year they did not automatically issue carthart overalls, and jackets. Last year I didn't use the jacket at all, so I only asked for a set of bib overalls. A windbreaker was the other extra item I asked for.

Depending on where a person is headed, and the type of job they are doing, there are numerous variations of the clothing issue. They warned everyone during the briefing not to panic if someone around you has gear that you don't or vice versa.

They keep close track of the equipment they issue you, I turned in my paper work, and had a half hour to kill before the next bus back to town. I as was finishing I heard that our flight had been bumped a day, they needed a cargo only flight for Monday, so we would be going out Tuesday at the earliest.

Summer 98-99 was the last year of the Navy participation in the program. With their departure things had shuffled a bit at the Antarctic Centre. The Travel office had moved in next to the CDC and included a computer room for the program participatants to use while they are in Christchurch. I made a quick stop to check my email, and drop a note to my family that I had arrived in Christchurch.

Pat a construction foreman for the South Pole was in my orientation, and was on the bus back to town. We stopped in Cathedral Square to have a lamb Salvouki. I had almost forgotten how tasty they were. I walked back to the YMCA, and thought I'd lie down for a nap, and head back into town. After about an hour, I woke up, and decided I was really tired, and climbed into bed about 6PM, and was out. So much for Saturday night in Christchurch.

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