Day tripping to Low Tongue
On Sunday 2 June, Jeremy and I left Mawson station on quad bikes for a day run out west to Low Tongue and Forbes Glacier, leaving in a stiff twenty knot katabatic wind.
Forbes Glacier, one of the outlet ice streams from the continental ice sheet of Antarctica, is located 20 km west of Mawson station entering Holme Bay. The glacier originates on the east of the Casey Range, 25 km south of the coast and it is fed by tributaries which, after flowing east and north through the nunataks, unite to form an ice stream about 5 km wide. It was named after A. Forbes of ANARE who perished on a field trip at Heard Island in 1952.
The sea ice surface was perfect, smooth with very little stastrugi. We followed the sea ice cliffs all the way and the scenery was just magnificent. The glaciers are just out of this world. The ice is so blue and all crumbly like honey comb and is in so many weird and wonderful shapes and formations you never get sick of looking at it. A lot of it is carrying moraine and large boulders. There are many places where recent collapses have occurred and some of the ice just seem to defy gravity and could come down at any time.
There are caves all throughout the cliffs, some very deep and others have stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The sea ice was so smooth we could travel at a good speed looking out for the many tide cracks and other hazards. We came across a lone emperor penguin in the middle of nowhere that must be lost so we gave him directions to Auster rookery. Eventually we navigated our way to Low Tongue depot where we inspected a fuel cache. The whole area here is a summer nesting colony for Adelie penguins and there were nests, guano, feathers and dead penguins everywhere. The rocks here are totally different to those at Mawson and contain a lot of garnet.
After a good climb around on the rocks we had a break for a warm drink and a quick bite before starting the journey back to Mawson. For the whole day, the sun barely got up above the horizon and I wanted to make sure we got back before it got too dark. On the way back we saw quite a few seal holes in the sea ice and we came across another three emperor penguins just wandering around in the middle of nowhere so we gave them directions to Auster rookery as well. Once again the scenery on the way back was just stunning.
We got back to Mawson station right on dusk, cold and ready for a hot shower, but it was one of my most enjoyable days at Mawson so far.