The three-person team packs one heavy duty, easy-to-erect (so called tunnel-) tent. Now, you have most likely seen a tent before…but, there are a couple of things that are different about this tent.
The first thing is its shape. It is not one of those big square tents with lots of room to stand up you see on most family camping places. Remember above the tree line, we are talking fierce winds a great deal of the time, and with no protection. If the team used a big square tent, the wind would simply pound it until it ripped apart. Our tents on the other hand, are low to the ground (they can barely sit up on their knees inside of it) so that the wind can easily travel up and over it.
With winds as strong as – 20, 40, 60 miles an hour -- the wind could actually pick up the tent with Paul, Mille and Gary and all their equipment inside of it. So they have to anchor it down. For this there are big square "snow flaps" all around the tent. At night when camp is set, they shovel between 1 and 2 ft (30-60 cm) of snow on these flaps. There are also 4 guy ropes attaches to the tent, which they anchor into the ground. If they are on ice, they use an ice screw – if on snow they could use a pair of skis. Now the tent is anchored.
The tent is of course also made of extra strong materials, have reinforced floors, extra strong poles and very importantly a door in each end.
Inside of the tent they have all of their equipment, the food, 3 sleeping bag systems, their clothing hanging down from above in the drying rack (how do you think it smells in there?) and finally a two burner Coleman stove. You should never have a stove in a tent. Needless to say if you bump it over, you can easily put the tent on fire. And it can be poisoning. You have maybe heard about how you should never be inside the garage with closed doors and turn the car on – because it can kill you from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced when burning gas for your stove as well as coming out in your car exhaust. Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood taking the spots meant for oxygen – so you don’t get enough air! This can happen rapidly and without warning. Symptoms of poisoning vary from light headedness and headache, to coma, seizures and death.
So, why does the team have a stove in the tent? Well, they need it for cooking, drying their clothing and most importantly for melting that ice and snow into water. They just have to be extremely careful about keeping excellent ventilation in the tent, which is why the two tent doors (one in each end) are always zipped about ¼ open. But yes, it is one of the most dangerous factors of an expedition.