This week at Davis: 10 November 2017

This week at Davis we flew to Mawson, cleaned the station and got the groomer up to the plateau.

Station update

This week at Davis has been busy. We had blizzard like conditions that couldn’t be categorised as a blizzard because the snow got blown away so the visibility was too good. Hence, it is now referred to as the 'blizzard of disappointment'. This completely destroyed our beautiful runway, and the deisos had to start the grooming process all over again. The blizzard also brought warm weather, as result our mountains of snow are now melting, exposing the ground around station which then exacerbates the melting process. Temperatures are now hovering around −2° C and things are going to get muddy quickly.

On Monday we flew to Mawson to pick up Heidi, a field training officer (FTO). She is spending a couple of weeks at Davis to field train the Twin Otter team and conduct some recce flights to Mount Brown. This is a site where an exciting ice coring project will be conducted from this summer – more on that later.

The Twin Otter landed on the sea ice in front of Mawson station. This is their ski landing area. It doesn’t need any preparation, unlike our Davis site, as it is regularly polished by the katabatics which Mawson is famous for.

The flight took three hours and once there, the team had a cup of tea in the living quarters and a quick tour of station. As a result, Jock, our aircrew trip leader is now quite keen for a winter at Mawson.

Having swapped cargo it was time to fly back to Davis. The trip home took in a scenic flight along the coastal route to look at the sea ice distribution between Mawson and the local emperor penguin colony at Auster Rookery.

By Tuesday the Twin Otter team were bivvying out at Ripple Lake for survival training. This involved learning how to navigate around the Vestfold Hills with our 78 degree deviation due to our proximity to the South Pole and getting experience at digging snow caves. Given the aviation team work out of the high Arctic, polar camping isn’t new to them, just easier because there are no bears.

Otherwise we’ve endeavored to deliver a groomer up to Woop Woop, the Davis Plateau Ski Landing Area, in preparation of the upcoming summer aviation program. This went slightly awry when the winds were significantly greater than those forecast and the team had to hunker down in some wild weather.

Last weekend focused on getting the station ship–ready, just in case the Aurora Australis arrived earlier than expected. So every building got a spring clean. The station now looks great, with every cupboard and storage area looking neat and tidy. The ship has since been delayed by a day and is now expected on Tuesday. So the good news for us is we get a weekend to relax and re–energise before the summer team gets here at which time the station will swell from our 17 winterers, three aviators and one FTO, to 93 or so people. It will be quite the adjustment but we’re excited to see new faces and welcome back old friends.

Kirsten (Station Leader)

The pilots, Doug and Jeff, check the Twin Otter's wing tie downs. Blizz covers the plane's skis.
The pilots, Doug and Jeff, check the Twin Otter's wing tie downs.…
(Photo: Kirsten le Mar)
Doug, Ryan and Jeff attempt to reattach the Twin Otter's wing tie down in the blizzard. Ryan is up on a ladder under the wing while the others anchor the ladder in the high wind.
Doug, Ryan and Jeff attempt to reattach the Twin Otter's wing tie…
(Photo: Kirsten le Mar)
The view on the runway. The beautifully groomed runway has been destroyed by high wind and snow.
The view on the runway. The beautifully groomed runway has been destroyed…
(Photo: Kirsten le Mar)
Jeff enjoying the feeling of being carried by the wind.
Jeff enjoying the feeling of being carried by the wind.
(Photo: Kirsten le Mar)
Dark, moody clouds over the red Emergency Vehicle Shed.
Dark, moody clouds over station.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Our pristine powder snow has been replaced by melting dirty snow. Summer is coming...
Our pristine powder snow has been replaced by melting dirty snow. Summer…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Melting snow around station.
Melting snow around station.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Melting blizz tails morph from sharp, angular, geometric features to rounded waves.
Melting blizz tails morph from sharp, angular, geometric features to rounded waves.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Large puddles are forming between buildings.
Large puddles are forming between buildings.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
View from inside the groomer, on a perfect day, heading up to Woop Woop.
View from inside the groomer, on a perfect day, heading up to…
(Photo: Marc Mills)
The weather takes a turn. Ice covers the windscreen as the wiper battles to clear the view.
The weather takes a turn.
(Photo: Marc Mills)
Marc's view from inside the groomer while hunkered down and waiting for the wind to abate.
Marc's view from inside the groomer while hunkered down and waiting for…
(Photo: Marc Mills)
The wind dies down enough for Fitzy to inspect the blizz accumulation.
The wind dies down enough for Fitzy to inspect the blizz accumulation.
(Photo: Marc Mills)
The groomer didn't fare so well getting buried up to the doors in blizz.
The groomer didn't fare so well getting buried up to the doors…
(Photo: Marc Mills)
The view from the Twin Otter on approach to Mawson Station.
The view from the Twin Otter on approach to Mawson station.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)
The Mawson welcoming party.
The Mawson welcoming party.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)