28 August, 2009

Members of the operations team at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) tested a new tent for use in the Antarctic at SNO!zone in Milton Keynes this week.

The new pyramid tent was tested at around −5°C to check its effectiveness for breathability, ventilation and condensation, and its suitability for use in Antarctic conditions. Pyramid tents are regularly used by BAS when science teams head into the interior of Antarctica where conditions are hostile and temperatures can drop to around −20°C.

The tent was kitted with a Primus cooking stove, Tilley lamp and a sleeping system similar to that used by the early polar explorers Scott and Shackleton. These products, made of traditional materials, have consistently been the most reliable when used in extreme temperatures.

BAS health and safety manager, Steve Marshall says,

“It was really important for us to test the tent and the equipment in conditions similar to those we experience in Antarctica. By using the tent in snow and cold temperatures we could use a thermal imaging camera and other instruments to test its performance to see if it could be used in Antarctica.”

SNO!zone operates 3 indoor snow sports centres across the UK. Housed within the Xscape complex, they are based in Braehead, Scotland, Castleford near Leeds and Milton Keynes. The first SNO!zone was opened in 2001 in Milton Keynes, and this centre receives over one million visitors a year. The centre in Castleford was opened in 2003, and the third centre, Scotland’s only indoor real snow slope was opened in 2006. With slopes ranging from 170m to 200m long, the real snow slopes are covered in over 1500 tonnes of snow. In addition to the main slope, each centre has a dedicated lesson slope which allows visitors to learn the basics of snowboarding and skiing from qualified instructors. The snow slopes are the perfect place to have a go on the daring ice slide or race down the slope on a toboggan.