Expeditioners are out and about this week on a jolly to Peterson Island, the Antarctic Running Club does a hut resupply and Casey celebrates with an end of winter dinner!

A visit to Peterson Island

Peterson Island is located off the Browning Peninsula and accessible via the sea ice in winter or by boat during summer. The island is an important breeding spot for penguins and seals and therefore also of great interest to scientists and expeditioners. The island once had a small melon (hut) for people to visit however it was blown away in the famous storm of December 2011. A cache will now be on the island until such time as a new hut can be constructed. Caches are located on several islands in our operating area and contain emergency survival equipment should visitors become stranded.

Last weekend Gav headed out with Craig and Stu to position the new cache on the island. It is equipped with survival gear including a polar pyramid, sleeping gear, cooking equipment and food. Departing station was a slow affair after our end of winter dinner the previous night and the bumpy journey to Browning Peninsula was not appreciated by all on board. We left the Hägglunds at Browning Hut and instantly felt more comfortable in the fresh air with loaded sleds in tow.

The island is a hive of activity compared to our last visit some six weeks ago. Much of the sea ice has broken out and the animals have returned. The sound of the penguins and their familiar aroma brought a smile to our faces, yet another sign of long summer days ahead. We bivvied, enjoying being able to pick the perfect spot for the evening. A rocky ledge overlooking the island’s penguin colonies and the Vanderford Glacier provided a spectacular backdrop for the evening and was a great sight to awaken to.

Field Hut resupply by The Antarctic Running Club (ARC)

Just another Monday afternoon for the founding members of The Antarctic Running Club (ARC) as we set off, on foot, from station. Our destination: Jacks Donga, approximately 12.5km following the cane line from Casey. Our task was to resupply the field hut for the forthcoming summer season and arrival of scientists who will spend many weeks there over the busy summer period.

Running conditions were favourable, −20 degrees C with a cool 15 knot wind! The first six kilometres out of Casey is all uphill following the main cane line to the skiway. As we turned off the main skiway road at A08 the poor surface definition made running over the ‘sastrugi’ difficult. However, once we made it down past the moraine line the ground surface, conditions vastly improved.

Forty-five minutes after leaving station we arrived at Jacks Donga to be greeted with bright sunshine and a stunning view across the Swain group of islands.

After restocking some equipment, essential cooking utensils and food for the busy season ahead, we set off retracing our steps over the blue ice along the cane line back to station.

We would like to thank the makers of Arnott’s Tim-Tams and Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney pies for fuelling this challenge (we do enjoy our food).

Finally, with news filtering through the social media networks about our recent seven day winter foot traverse there are rumours the ARC team have been contacted by Sir Ranulph Fiennes for logistical advice on his winter amazing foot traverse record attempt. (The authors cannot rule out the possibility that they started these rumours themselves)

End of winter dinner

Last Saturday night we sat down for the last time to a formal dinner as a wintering group. During our time here on our own, once each week on a Saturday evening, we have made the effort to put down tablecloths, bring out the glassware and eat dinner together as a group, perhaps a little more leisurely than on other days and with some more conversation. Many people have made the effort each week to dress a little more formally than normal (best t-shirt thank you), have a shave or even bring out the iron. Some of those Saturday evening dinners have been fancy dress nights (70s night, 80s night, Casey Olympics, Arabian Nights) and some have been special celebrations (midwinter dinner for instance). The end of winter dinner certainly fell into the latter category.

For this occassion we moved some tables in front of the big windows in the wallow and sat either looking out on, or backdropped by, a spectacular Antarctic view. Gavin (ably assisted by his apprentices) excelled with the food (as usual) and, just as importantly, joined us at the table almost from the outset so we could enjoy his company as well as his food. The best wine was brought out, jokes told, speeches made and there was much dancing. Expeditioners settled bets that could be put off no longer and even the station leader was rumoured to have relaxed a bit, though he denied any memory of this the following day.

Having blown off some steam and let our hair down for the night, everyone emerged on Sunday (well Monday) ready to put the finishing touches on the station and receive the first of our summer expeditioners.