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How do you go the toilet in the snow, miles from a bathroom?

3 May 2019

For over a year, ten pupils from Bathgate Academy and their teacher have been asked a rather unusual question: “How do you go to the toilet in the snow?”

That’s because they’ve been part of an extraordinary, life-changing expedition: a 50km trek across the snowy mountains of East Greenland.

You make the wall to hide behind, so no one can see you.

Accompanied by a highly qualified team of Arctic guides, they spent their days skiiing across the wintry terrain, cooking their own food and pitching tents for the night. Oh, and building fences to protect them from marauding polar bears.

But back to the toilet question.

“First, you have to cut ice blocks for the wall. You make the wall to hide behind, so no one can see you.

“You need to dig the hole, but not too close to the wall. Take the shovel with you so people know you’re in the toilet.

“Put one foot either side of the hole, unzip your salopettes from your torso down to your ankle, pull it round and squat. It’s the same for boys as well as girls.”

Tips from Polar Explorers

Tip 1: Don’t fall down the toilet! Ellis Mackay and 3 pupils share what they’ve learned.

More top tips for the next time you’re skiing across Greenland

Staying warm at night

“Your sleeping bag is only as warm as you are, so if you’re cold then your sleeping bad will stay cold too.

“Go for a quick run outside and then jump straight into your sleeping bag. Because you’re warm, the bag will heat up to the temperature you are and that’ll keep you warmer.

“You can also put the water you’ve boiled up for cooking into your water bottle and put that down the bottom of your sleeping bag to heat it up.”

Drying your socks/hat/gloves

“Stick them in the bottom of your sleeping bag, too, so they warm up and dry out.”

Don’t leave your boots outside

“Someone in our team left theirs outside one night; the next morning they were frozen solid.”

Let out the moisture

“Open some of the zips and vents inside your tent so the moisture we breathe out can escape.

Otherwise, in the morning, all the moisture freezes and, if you hit the side of the tent, it’ll start snowing!”

Packing up your sleeping bag

“Turn it inside out first. Something that would take you 15 minutes now takes maybe three.”

Be bold and start cold

“When you start skiing in the morning, you’ll heat up really quickly.

If you start with just your base layer on, or just your waterproof jacket with its vents open, then you won’t heat up as quickly and have to stop as often.”

Polar Preparation

Pupils from Bathgate Academy talk about preparing for their Polar expedition.

Bathgate Polar Academy

Bathgate Polar Academy

Pupils from Bathgate Academy went to Greenland.

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