The last look at Auster for 2013, perhaps
Last weekend saw an overnight quad bike trip out to Macey and then on to Auster Rookery. We used the opportunity to get out and about during a small break in the otherwise ordinary weather we have been encountering here at Mawson.
In the two days of riding we covered nearly 150 km, travelling along the sea ice. It took around an hour and a half to reach Macey Hut after we departed Mawson on Friday night. It was mostly smooth riding apart from some sastrugi in the last 15 km. We reached Macey and all settled in for the night. We shared some drinks, some stories and some laughs before retiring to our bunks.
Pete had us up nice and early in the morning for part two of the ride out to Auster Rookery. After breakfast in bed (thanks Pete) we packed up our gear and headed out on the quads. The scenery was remarkable, passing through towering icebergs, each different from the last. The size and formation of each iceberg is truly incredible. We rode through some more sastrugi and also some soft snow, getting bogged a few times (thanks Geoff) before we reached the rookery.
At this point there is barely a knot of wind in the air, the sun is shining and the air temperature would be lucky if it was minus five. Perfect!
We settled in for the day being cautious to keep our distance from the penguins and their chicks but before long, their curiosity gets the better of them and they make their way over to us. This allowed for some incredible photo opportunities, which we all took advantage of.
After spending the day at Auster, we rode back to Mawson before the weather closed in. This will be one of my most memorable trips in Antarctica. A big thanks to Pete Cubit, Keldyn Francis, Geoff Brealey, Steve Edwards and Paul Shaw.
By Matt Donoghue