The ship has left Hobart to come and get us and our time here is quickly coming to a close. On the one hand I’m mercilessly harassing our risk averse station leader into letting me experience everything I can in the last few weeks, and as a result I’ve pulled off some great little trips away.
It was dark outside Davis living quarters on Sunday morning as we made the final preparations for departure on our traverse to the Rauer island group. A small handful of dedicated fellow expeditioners had gathered to send us off, somehow making things seem serious. We are only going for five days, right? Nevertheless the six of us, three in each vehicle, were going to have to be completely sufficient for our trip as we would be too far away from the skeleton crew left at station for them to be of any help. This trip was in many ways the climax of the winter season. My best day of the Antarctic experience was the helicopter trip to the Rauer islands in the summer. This Rauers traverse trip was to be the best week.
Summer has helicopters, winter has quad bikes.
A really fun way to get around the Vestfold hills. For this three day trip we based ourselves at Watts hut, each day exploring something different. It was primarily a recreational (or “jolly”) trip, although we did spend a surprising amount of time tidying up the hut, installing a new heater and an oven bench top, changing the gas, checking fuel and supplies.
Last month has been damn cold. Our last decent blow (87km/hr / 46 knot gusts) was the first few days of March, since then, the wind has averaged under eight knots. When we get the big weather systems come through, obviously the wind chill makes it unpleasant to go outside but in fact the temperature rises by a few degrees. This blow in March however had temperatures several degrees below freezing and we had some grease ice trails form, originating in the shallow sheltered water against the cold rocks and drifting off downwind. And so it began…
Now that the busy summer season is over and we have a little breathing space, a few of us have been itching to get out and go on a walk somewhere. Our station leader, new on the scene, has told us to hold our horses! – we need to build up our SAR (search and rescue) capabilities first. This is a fair enough call, now the ship has taken away those quite useful machines known as helicopters, and with no sea ice the rocky terrain limits us to walking. I imagine that long distance stretcher carrying starts to lose its novelty after a while!