A trip to Cape Poinsett
25 September 2007
Two weeks ago a small group of 7 Casey expeditioners under the leadership of diesel mechanic Mark Lagemann braved the blizzards and headed up onto the plateau to install a new automatic weather station (AWS) at Cape Poinsett for the Bureau of Meteorology.
Due to the heavy snow accumulation in the area, the structure also needed to be raised another 3 metres to keep it above the snow. Cape Poinsett is situated on the plateau 125 km trip east north east of Casey.
After extensive planning including updating map information with GPS waypoints, the expeditioners set off on Thursday 6 September. After a fairly hard day's travel, moving at just 10 km an hour, they set up camp encircled with a blizz line - a line of rope to use as a guide in times of bad weather when it can be impossible to see.
This turned out to be a fortunate safeguard, as blizzard conditions the next morning with winds in excess of 75 knots confined the men to their tents. In his daily diary of the trip, Mark Lagemann commented that all were content to remain where they were. Later in the morning saw several of us head out to dig out the tent entrances and bring in the evening's frozen food to thaw out. The afternoon was spent reading and napping.
Fortunately conditions had abated by the next morning, and the men were able to continue their journey, arriving at Cape Poinsett during the afternoon in whiteout conditions. As Mark related in the diary:
We made camp for the night and settled in for the evening. Men in tents seemed to be enjoying it despite the cold. All the group witnessed a fantastic aurora this evening after dinner. Again awoke to blizzard conditions, all sleeping in and reading this morning.
The weather cleared at about 4 pm allowing us to effect a repair to a damaged door of the 'Silver Chalet' (living van) and then make a start on the AWS. Everyone worked well on assigned tasks, and during the evening found ourselves closer to completion than we had thought, so decided to push on. We finished the tasks at around 1 am on the Monday morning, packed up the equipment and had dinner.
They left the AWS unit to run overnight on its new platform of 44 gallon drums, and turned in for a well earned rest. With the AWS functioning well the next day, they broke camp and departed for Casey at 1 pm and arrived just 12 hours later to enjoy a late dinner and celebratory drink.
As Trip Leader Mark noted, the success of these ventures is due to a combined effort: The team worked well together throughout the planning, preparation and execution of the project. The team had a great range of skills and abilities which made it a pleasurable trip for all involved despite the sometimes harsh conditions. Thanks also to those on station who assisted with the preparations and communications.
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