Conducting Interviews in Extreme Environments: Perceptions of Mental and Physical Durability During a High-Altitude Antarctic Expedition


In January 2016, 10 mentally and physically injured Canadian military veterans and 25 civilians summited Vinson Massif in Antarctica. Vinson Massif (16,067 ft; 4898 m) is the highest mountain in Antarctica and one of the World’s Seven Summits—the highest peaks on each continent—and as such the climb itself took 10 days. This project explored perceptions of mental and physical durability during the Antarctic expedition. The project consisted of semi-structured interviews before, during, and after the expedition, using techniques from personal construct psychology, specifically the laddering technique. Discussion will include an overview of the methods used and the challenges faced while conducting research in an extreme environment.

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