Mountains, weather stations and fog
Mt Hordern and the Henderson AWS – a tale of data loggers, mountains, winches and fog
Darron, Peter C and Dean headed out last week into the field, primarily to perform maintenance on the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) at a site approximately 20 km southeast of Mt Henderson. We were at the site for three hours, successfully completed the work and downloaded the latest data from the data loggers that record ice temperatures and local weather parameters.
The rest of the day was spent travelling in sunny conditions back to Mt Henderson and onwards to Fang hut, where we spent a relaxing evening playing guitar and bongo drums. Dean gave a stirring performance as guest vocalist.
The following morning we ventured onwards to the mythical Mt Hordern, this being our first ever visit to this particular area. Excitement was high.
We chose to hike along a route that took us on a clockwise circumnavigation of the mountain, and the scenery was nothing short of spectacular. We came to a dead end, formed by what appeared to be a set of surf waves frozen in time. We therefore climbed up over a saddle on the southern end of Mt Hordern, taking in the stunning views both east and west, before descending down into the wild frontier lands of western Mt Hordern.
We continued walking north along the western side of Mt Hordern, eventually reaching the sanctuary of our Hägglunds. We then drove down towards the base of Mt Dunlop, where we spent some time exploring the lake and making the most of the balmy summer conditions.
Having returned to our vehicle, we discovered that Mother Nature had played a trick on us – the warm sunny conditions had conspired to form a slippery smooth surface on the ice slope, meaning that we had difficulty driving the Hägglunds back up to the snowy plateau. So, it was out with the winch and ice anchors!
Using the recovery equipment stored on the roof of the vehicle, we were able to construct a belay system using ice anchors and a winch to safely drive the Hägglunds a distance of 150 m back up the slope. As the winch is only 30 m long, we had to reset the system five times. We all thoroughly enjoyed this unexpected application of our long-lost sea ice recovery skills.
It was a long drive back over the plateau, with the setting sun our companion. As we approached the station, we were suddenly engulfed in a fog bank. We thus spent the last hour of our trip driving and navigating through melt streams in pea soup fog.
We arrived shortly after midnight, to a station that was eerily quiet and shrouded in mist. There was no wind, nor was there a sound other than the quiet hum of the powerhouse. It was as if we had arrived back home to a ghost station…