How do you go to the toilet in Antarctica ?

The question everyone want’s to ask, but doesn’t… how to poop with thick down clothing ? To stay warm in Antarctica means that we wear several layers of pants, sweaters and jackets. Also, we need to eat plenty of ‘heavy meals’ to provide our body with the necessary nutrition to function under these harsh conditions. And this is in a protected environment, where all human waste should be collected for further disposal elsewhere…

Restroom with a view, Antarctica

“Four seasons on the ice help me to conclude, going to the toilet tent isn’t fun.” Imagine you wake up in the morning in a warm, comfy sleeping bag. You can feel your toes again; your aching fingers from picking rocks and soar muscles from digging snow are fully recovered. It is the warmest you will feel for the rest of the day… but you know that the worst moment is just a moment away: you need to go to the toilet tent. As you wiggle out of your sleeping bag, the sub-zero temperatures immediately start draining your energy. Your down jackets and pants are cold and it will take you a while to warm them up. You get out of the tent, the intense sunlight almost blinds you immediately as you forgot to bring sunglasses. Half-asleep you stumble through the camp where you can still hear your friends snoring in their warm and comfy sleeping bags. You go down on your knees as you crawl into the toilet tent… and hit your head on the poo bucket. As you see it falling over in slow motion you realize that it is to late. Frozen poop all over the floor.

OK, back to your question ! You put your pants down while still wearing several down jackets and sit on a bucket. In the bucket is an inner and an outer plastic bag. If the inner one is full with solid waste and toilet paper, you close it with two cable ties and wrap the outer one around it and close it similarly. The bucket is then sealed with a plastic lid and then sent to New Zealand via Scott Base for further disposal. Pee is collected separately in 20l pee barrels, but can be treated directly at Scott Base. After you are finished, you can wash your hands with hand sanitizer and crawl back out towards the light at the end of the tunnel…

Now is the second best moment of the day: it is the longest time period until you will return to the toilet tent. The sun is smiling with you under a clear blue sky. The fresh air energizes your body and sharpens your mind for the upcoming day. You inhale a deep breath and enjoy Antarctica’s magnificent landscape. In the distance, it is as if you can hear the penguins sing. Tumeke !


Inside an Antarctic toilet tent

This entry was posted in Priestley_2018. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How do you go to the toilet in Antarctica ?

  1. John says:

    Absolutely accurate, but not my favourite part of being on the ice! At least, strategically placed press studs on the clothing made certain operations a bit easier.


  2. David Brook says:

    Toilet tent? There was no such thing when I was there, you squatted in the open air then covered it with snow (or the dogs would eat it) but it was a long time ago.


  3. Jean Skinner says:

    Thank you – I loved being in Antarctica courtesy of Huertengarten,


  4. Sophie Waterman says:

    This was great!!! So funny and very informative:)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s