Toilets in Antarctica

We are at the base camp, with the volcano Mount Sidley in front of us. It measures 4.300 m (14.100 feet) and hardly anyone has ever climbed it before. All around us is a seemingly endless ice-plataeu. Nature at its best! Or at least almost, for this perfect impression is disturbed by a small, square white box, covered with black neoprene: a toilet, albeit not a usual one, however a real toilet in the middle of the biggest no man’s land on earth!

The view while sitting is unique and an unforgettable experience. A view into eternity – but not for eternity since this pleasure shouldn`t last too long with temperatures considerably sub-zero!

But why is there a toilet at a place which so far hardly 30 people have ever visited before? The answer can be found in the standard rules of our expedition leader, the American ALE, which states that no human remains may be left behind in the Antarctica. Any testimonies of civilisation will be collected and flown out. This is to protect the immaculate beauty of this unique spot on earth. Decomposition does not work at temperatures sub-zero.

We are accompanied with this policy during the whole expedition: in the DC3 propeller plane in form of a big canister; in Union Glacier, more comfortably, in form of four walls and a lockable door, albeit not heated. Even when we are out and about at the mountain we carry a so-called wag bag and also a pee bottle – important for the latter is the clearly defined yellow colour, in contrast to the blue-coloured drinking bottle πŸ˜‰

From my point of view this is an absolutely meaningful and vital policy – not least because it provided me with the best toilet experience ever.