Mountains, weather stations and fog

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This week at Mawson: 24 January 2014

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…

Work on Automatic weather station complete
Darron looking pleased after finishing work on the AWS
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Two male expeditioners stand outside Fang hut and next to a Hagglunds vehicle
Fang hut gets the thumbs up from Pete and Dean
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Mt Hordern and Mt Dunlop
Mt Hordern in foreground and Mt Dunlop behind
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Mt Hordern , Eastern side
Working our way along the eastern side of Mt Hordern
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Ice waves
Darron, Pete and Dean posing in front of the frozen set of…
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
View from Mt Hordern saddle
View from saddle, looking east
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
View from Mt Hordern saddle
View from saddle looking west
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Mt Hordern , western side
Heading north, along the western side of Mt Hordern
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Looking north from Mt Hordern to Mt Coates
Looking north towards Mt Coates
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Mt Hordern and Mt Dunlop
Mt Dunlop to the left, Mt Hordern to the right
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Lake at foot of Mt Dunlop
The lake at the foot of Mt Dunlop
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Setting up ice anchors
Setting up the ice anchors
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Winching Hagg
Using the winch
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
winching Hagg in spectacular area
The winch crew working in spectacular scenery
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
End of winching near
Almost there
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Male expeditioners stands up inside Hagglunds with sunset behind
Pete gives the victory salute
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Fog rolls in
Rampant fog
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
Navigating in fog.
Navigating through melts streams and pea soup fog
(Photo: Darron Lehmann)
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This page was last modified on 24 January 2014.