Travelling on the ice the old fashioned way
The wind battered the small tent, plummeting the wind chill temperature to −50°C as we packed our sleds and continued on the foot traverse across the polar plateau. The blowing snow blurred the hard blue ice around our feet.
Craig, Stu and I had been planning this trip for months and based ourselves at Browning Hut for some days of exploration on Peterson Island in search of a cairn left by the American Navy in 1948. We later scrambled over icy ridges and navigated frozen lakes to reach the island’s high point. We looked out and soaked up the views of the Vanderford Glacier which glistened like a sea of crushed blue diamonds in the soft afternoon sun.
Next morning we travelled on the sea ice to take scientific measurements, skirting the icy cliffs chiselled from the continent. We all shared the navigation, radio calls back to station (every 30 minutes for safety) and drilling as we made our way to Robbo’s Hut for some hot food and a soft bed.
Six days and 90 km after leaving, we hauled our sleds over a final ridge to the familiar sight of Casey silhouetted against the horizon. Despite being a record low of −32.4°C, all the discomforts of camping and sled hauling gave way to a warm glow within me. It was the feeling of having been immersed and experiencing the real Antarctica.
Gavin, Station Chef