6–19 December 2016

Our last week in Antarctica was a very busy one. It started on Tuesday the 6th December with preparations for our second deployment on the Sørsdal Glacier getting underway, these included operational meetings and a reconnaissance flight in the evening to probe out a safe area at site Twin Lake A.

By mid-Wednesday morning we had all the equipment packed and ready to be helicopter slung out to the site. Heading into the field, along with myself and Christian, was Ladge and Lötter, as well as the Field Training Officers Nick and Chris.

A camera tower was set up similar to that at our first site at Horseshoe Lake (see previous blog). Pressure transducers and a thermistor string were also installed. It was a long day out on the ice at a very interesting site. Everything was accomplished and so many holes drilled that we ran out of battery power for the Kovacs drills.

The following day we made the most of the fine weather and headed out again in the evening. Our third and final site was to a large channel feature. Nick and Gideon accompanied us, as well as Paul (the pilot) and the helicopter, which stayed on site until it was time to leave at 11:30pm. Since we didn’t have long we worked hard to drill all the holes needed, spool out the wire to secure the self-logging pressure transducers and collect as much additional data as possible to help unravel the mystery of the channel’s formation. The light was low and soft as we flew back over the Vestfold Hills, giving the landscape a completely different atmosphere and dimension.

Thinking we would get a day of rest on Friday we took it easy in the morning, only to find out around midday that we would actually be on the next plane heading to Casey research station, which was due to arrive at Woop Woop (the Davis airfield) the very next day. The remainder of Friday was a chaotic rush of packing up equipment, sorting out notes, sharing photographs, packing our personal gear and bidding sad farewells to all our friends at Davis.

Early Saturday morning we were helicoptered to Woop Woop to await the arrival of the CHINARE (Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration) Basler which would take us to Casey. After a rather uncomfortable 5 hour flight we eventually landed on the ski-way at Casey and took the bus ‘Priscilla’ down to the station. We arrived at dinner time, just before the local band kicked off, entertaining everyone with their serious musical talent. Everyone was dressed up in their finest rock gear, and for those of us from Davis it was all a bit surreal.

Over the next few days we were able to relax and catch up on some sleep. Christian tried out the local ski slope and explored the area surrounding Casey research station. It was strange to see water again since the fast ice is still covering the bay in front of Davis, but has disappeared completely from in front of Casey.

We had a pre-departure briefing Monday evening and did our bag drop Tuesday morning. Come Wednesday we were all ready to begin the last leg of the journey home. At 7 am we jumped into the bus and Hägglunds and took the 2.5 hour ride up to the Wilkins Aerodrome. We waited here for the Basler to arrive that would eventually take the incoming Sørsdal team members (Tom and Sue) on towards Davis. The A319 arrived and after a quick swap over we were taking off and leaving the Antarctic continent behind us. Though our time in Antarctica has come to an end, the Sørsdal Glacier adventures will continue with Sue and Tom, so stay tuned.

Eleri Evans

The Sørsdal Glacier project team will take a short break over Christmas and will continue their blog on 9 January 2017.