Real 'Ice Wives' and Husbands of Antarctica: Friends With Benefits Keep the South Pole Steamy

“I refer to myself as being in the Lucky Lucky Seven Club, as in, I've gotten lucky on all seven continents. I mean, wouldn't you?”

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Dec 6 2018, 6:49pm

Allow me to state two obvious things: Antarctica is very cold. Antarctica is also very remote. It is so hard to get there that workers and scientists are often stationed in Antarctica for months, and research stations have very spotty internet connection that could help you communicate with the outside world.

Enter, Ice Wives and Ice Husbands.

The Antarctica Slang dictionary on Cool Antarctica, an informal Antarctic blog, defines the terms as “a relationship conducted on the ice only just for the season, even if one or both parties are otherwise spoken for. No-one mentions it or tells anyone back home.”

According to people who have actually been to the frozen continent, both on Reddit and people who have been interviewed by publications such as The Australian and Cosmopolitan, Ice Wives and Ice Husbands are very, very real.

When Reddit user Persephoney1 asked r/antarctica, the Antarctica-themed subreddit, how Antarctic workers stay entertained, and whether there are any romances, two users quickly confirmed that yes, people fuck.

“Romances start quick and last all season,” user dinoparty commented. ‘It's called an Ice husband / Ice Wife. Late comers are SOL if they're dudes and don't pick up a girl on their ice flight."

“Of course there are romances, but workplace romances are as fraught with drama in Antarctica as anywhere else,” user The_Stargazer commented. “You seem to be implying that there would be a high infidelity rate in Antarctica, but I have not heard that it is any different than any other job with long separation periods. (ex: deployed military)”

This isn’t the first time that a sex-themed conversation has taken place on r/antarctica. One month ago, user Things_Happened asked, "Has anyone here had sex in Antarctica? How does it feel, do you regularly brag about having had sex in Antarctica?”

Six users claimed that they have had sex in Antarctica.

“I did and it was great because it was on the last months of my overwinter campaign,” user strangerpoint also commented. “All the scientists, weed and alcohol came down in summer and it was the best ever.”

“Yes and yes,” user RaggedClaws commented. “I refer to myself as being in the Lucky Lucky Seven Club, as in, I've gotten lucky on all seven continents. I mean, wouldn't you?”

“I have an Antarctic Service medal. Yes, I sexed. Multiple times,” user Antarcticat commented. “All US stations. I wear my medal proudly, but never brag about Antarctica sexing here in the CONUS. BUT, sexing at McMurdo is the best, especially in the Chapel of the Snows, on the altar.”

Christ almighty, he means this thing.

Chapel of the Snows in Antarctica.
Image: Chapel of the Snows, Wikimedia Commons

To be clear, this is not the same Antarctic church where a man was detained for 10 days for attempted murder before being brought back to Russia. That chapel was at a Russian Antarctic research station.

Though we don’t know for sure if these people have actually been to Antarctica (this is Reddit, after all, though some of these answers are so specific that they seem credible), there is lots of corroborating evidence published elsewhere from people who have worked in Antarctica.

In 2011, The Australian published a piece that quoted Nicholas Johnson, who had 10 years of experience working on US Antarctic bases, as saying that the workers and researchers had "heedless sex." The article claimed that that people at the station between March and August (Antarctic winter, when the sun is down for more than 24 hours at a time) are tested for HIV, but Motherboard was not able to independently confirm this claim.

When Paula Froelich, the woman who runs the blog A Broad Abroad, interviewed Australian Antarctic Division field training officer Tony Donaldson, he said that promiscuous sex is common at the American Antarctic stations.

“On other stations and in summer when there is more people, yes they screw a lot,” Donaldson told A Broad Abroad. “But not here (Mawson Station).”

However, not all sex in Antarctica is promiscuous. When Cosmopolitan interviewed Keri Nelson, who travelled to Antarctica for a year with her lover, Nelson said that she and her lover fed each other Antarctica-grown food as a demonstration of love.

“At the time, there was a greenhouse at McMurdo Station, and Scott didn't have a way of growing any fresh food, so I would save my portion of salad or lettuce from the meal before, and he would come over and we would feed each other bits of lettuce,” Nelson told Cosmo. “That was a romantic thing to do in Antarctica in the winter, like, "Oh, there's fresh food and I will share it with the person that I really like.’ It was really cheesy but lovely.’”

Whatever floats your boat!

If you or someone you know has ever had sex on Antarctica, please email the author at caroline.haskins@vice.com.