This week at the station

This week at Davis: 24 May 2013

Walking and skiing to Anchorage Island

After some favourable results from our sea ice measurements in front of station, Kingston head office gave Jason the go-ahead to open the 'sea ice station limits'. This enabled those keen enough a chance to go for a walk of a different type. The relatively flat ice certainly wasn’t as hard going as walking out to Watts Hut, which everyone appreciated.

This also opened up the skiable terrain (something severely lacking at Davis due to all the rock and little snow/ice), giving one expeditioner in particular a chance to hone his skiing skills and test his fitness levels while pulling a sled.

While most of the wildlife has left the station area until spring, on the way out we were lucky enough to see a snow petrel.

At the top of Anchorage Island there are three crosses erected in remembrance of expeditioners that have lost their lives in incidents at Davis. We hiked up to the summit to pay our respects and take in the views out across iceberg alley.

It is times like these that bring home the harsh reality of life in Antarctica.

Mark K

Two expeditioners walking and one cross country skiing dragging a sled on the sea ice
Walking and skiing out to Anchorage Island
(Photo: Mark K)
An expeditioner dragging a sled while walking on the sea ice with two expeditioners in the background
Walking and skiing out to Anchorage Island
(Photo: Mark K)
Three expeditioners standing next to one of the three crosses on the Island
Paying our respects at the crosses
(Photo: Mark K)
Skyline shot of Anchorage Island taken during January resupply
Skyline shot of Anchorage Island taken during January resupply
(Photo: Rich Y)

'Ninja Comms Tech' for hire

When a desperate call comes in from back in Australia – “Mate, I need a favour” – the 'Ninja Comms Tech' is there to help, masked for anonymity with a preparedness to help those in need.

“My friend is planning on proposing this weekend and wants a photo of a sign with the proposal on it, taken somewhere Davis-y."

Sorted!

And for those keen on further details, she accepted!

Of course, that now leaves me wondering whether it is in fact me or the other bloke that is engaged. Either way, the 'Ninja Comms Tech' is ready, willing and able to step up to whatever challenge is laid before him.

Mystery person holds up a “Will you marry me?” sign for a friend
The 'Ninja Comms Tech' asks a big question
(Photo: Bob S)
The “Will you marry me” sign standing up in the snow on the outside table
Always providing a backup option
(Photo: Mystery person)

The sea ice officially opens, and the quads head to Watts Hut

Q: What’s more exciting, and less painful, than walking to Watts Hut?

A: Heading out to Watts Hut on quads!

With the sea ice officially opening last Thursday, Tim, Pat, Bob and myself took immediate advantage and organised our first quad-based jolly for the season. With the official sunlight time down to just four hours (sunrise at 11:44am, sunset 3:44pm), we wanted to make the most of whatever light we could. So we packed up in the pre-dawn light and headed off shortly after Saturday brunch as the sun rose on our backs.

With one major hurdle in our paths (The Ellis Narrows), we proceeded cautiously off the land bridge on foot and began our ice drilling. With a minimum drill of 430mm, but mostly over 480mm, we were good to go. Back on the quads, we proceeded up the Ellis Fjord to Ellis Rapids. Crossing another short land bridge we found our way to Lake Druhzby, an amazing freshwater lake that captures the snow melt and glacial run off in the southern Vestfold Hills before draining out the Ellis Rapids and down Ellis Fjord.

Due to its locked-in (and non-tidal) nature, the ice we found in Lake Druhzby was remarkably perfect: crystal clear and polished flat. We drove the quads all the way to the end of the lake, across wide open areas and through tight little creeks that joined one little lake section to the next. But mostly, we were just in awe of the sheer beauty that surrounded us.

We returned to Watts Hut for a few hours to wait out the twilight, then returned to the first section of Lake Druhzby to try some experimental photography with lights drilled into the ice. Needless to say we think we got the hang of it by the end.

With our backyard now accessible, winter is promising to be a very exciting time. Stay tuned for more adventures as the Davis winter crew of 2013 continue to explore the Vestfold Hills.

Rich Y

Quad bike loaded up with safety equipment parked on the sea ice
Trusty steed packed and ready to roll
(Photo: Rich Y)
Expeditioner drill the ice with a battery drill to gauge the thickness
Drilling the sea ice. Yeah, I think it's thick enough!
(Photo: Rich Y)
Photo of the smooth top of a frozen fresh water lake with hills in the background
Lake Druhzby - a fresh water lake with perfect ice
(Photo: Rich Y)
A close up of the frozen fresh water lake showing the cracks formed in the ice
Lake Druhzby - multiple layers of previously cracked ice
(Photo: Rich Y)
The effect lighting after drilling a hole in the fresh water lake and putting a torch in the hole
Bob mesmerised by lighting up the ice
(Photo: Rich Y)
Four expeditioners on the frozen fresh water lake with the ice lit up by a torch
Group shot – Tim, Bob, Rich and Pat
(Photo: Rich Y)

Marvin takes his practical jokes too far

To tell this story properly we have to go all the way back to summer when several expeditioners found it funny (even hilarious at times) to hide the coffee mugs of one or two of their fellow compadres. The rules were simple: the mug had to be in plain sight - that’s it - plain sight! I’m sure Seamus won’t mind us saying he was a great sport at being the butt of a few of these practical jokes.

But once the summer crew left, things seemed to step up a notch. Enter Gavin’s 'Marvin the Martian' mug. We all thought that the practical jokers left on the ship in February, so it could only have been Marvin that took it upon himself to start hiding in random location around the mess. There were many a smoko when Gavin was distraught at being unable to locate Marvin, who was more often than not less than three metres from where he would normally be (you see, mugs can’t get too far on their own).

But as often happens with practical jokes, one day Marvin took it too far.

As the expeditioners rolled in for smoko one day, they spied a solid block of ice with a funny yellow/green tinge to it resting near the bain-marie. It appeared that Marvin had tired with the obvious hiding places and decided to add an extra Antarctic touch to his shenanigans.

EPIC FAIL!

As time wore on, and the external layer of frost melted away, the shocking clarity of Marvin’s demise became obvious. Like Marvin, Gavin was shattered - but in true 'met' style he sucked it up and laughed it off. Everyone learned a lesson that day – pranks are funny, mugs don’t know their limits and when you’re stuck on ice with 16 other blokes it pays not to let the little things bother you!

In the immortal words of Marvin himself, “Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom!” 

Marvin mug hiding on top of the Milo tin
Blending in at the espresso machine
(Photo: Mister X)
Marvin mug hiding under a stair tread
Getting sneaky on the staircase
(Photo: Mister X)
Marvin mug tied to the light fitting
Taking it further afield and hanging out in the mess
(Photo: Mister X)
Marvin mug hiding in the coffee bean grinder
The 'Pièce de résistance', Marvin's sneakiest effort on record
(Photo: Mister X)
Marvin mug hiding in a block of ice
Marvin steps it up and tries to hide in a block of…
(Photo: Mister X)
Broken Marvin mug due to the ice expanding, no more Marvin mug!
Shattered! When practical jokes go one step too far
(Photo: A very sorry Mister X)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.