As the dark takes over at Davis we open the Davis Blizz Bar, we visit Bandits and Platcha Huts and celebrate a birthday.

Davis Blizz Bar

Question: What do you do on a quiet Davis long weekend? Answer: Build an ice bar.

It started out as a random idea, and came to fruition with the help of six expeditioners, one Hägglunds, one JCB (telehandler), two chainsaws and a variety of hand tools.

Using the chainsaws (qualified operators only) we cut out sections of ice from a blizz tail that has formed out of snow downwind of a building and then thawed and re-frozen over several years, this gave us our basic building blocks for the bar. With the use of the vehicles we then transported the ice blocks to the living quarters landing for assembly. Water was used to freeze the blocks together and to create the icicles that have formed over the bar.

The letters were then created using hand tools and colored with food dye, and coloured lights bring the bar to life.

A well-earned drink at the bar was had by all concerned (although we only had about three minutes to finish our drinks before they were frozen in the −28 degree conditions) to open the bar in readiness for the midwinter celebrations and beyond.

Scott Visser

Midwinter birthday

We helped Chris celebrate his birthday this week. His choice of a Mars bar cheesecake, perfectly done by Lesley our chef, proved a favourite with us all. Each piece must have had at least 500 calories…

Drilling the sea ice to Platcha

On a weekend in May, Chris, Scott and I took a trip to Platcha Hut to get away from station and drill the sea ice to prove a route to determine whether the ice was safe to ride on. We travelled on quads from station out to PL04 as the route had already been proven to that point, then we had to continually drill every 50 to 100 metres from PL04 to Platcha Hut.

Just after leaving station we came across an emperor penguin on the outside of Anchorage Island only approximately four kilometres from station. We stopped for a bit to make the most of this rare opportunity to take some photos.

Once we arrived at Platcha Hut we settled in for the night in the warm comforts of the hut and passed the time sharing stories and enjoying good food.

The next day we headed up Tryne Fjord from Pioneers Crossing for a look and to take some photos of icebergs, heading back to Platcha as the darkness crept in. That night we entertained ourselves by making signs with glow sticks and also capturing the aurora overhead, even more spectacular in the darkness away from station lights.

On the way home the following day we made our way up Long Fjord to Ace Lake Hut where we had to do some more drilling and stopped for lunch at Ace Lake apple hut. As we made our way back to station we were lucky and came across two Weddell seals who were more than happy to pose for the camera. 

Jen Proudfoot  

Bandits for a break

We had now lost the sun for six weeks or so, but there was still four or so hours of twilight so John, Darren, Craig and Ladge decided to spend a weekend at Bandits Hut. Bandits, being on one of the many islands in the Vestfold Hills, is only accessible in winter across the sea ice unless you can get a chopper ride there in the summer.

The ice was now well over the 600 millimetre minimum for a Hägg (Hägglunds tracked vehicle) so that was our chosen transport and we headed off at first light (11:30am) on the Friday.

The route to Bandits, about 18km up the coast from Davis across the frozen ocean, took us through ‘iceberg alley’ so many stops were made to take copious photos of amazing icebergs. Even in the overcast grey twilight they looked spectacular. A thermos of coffee was a welcome addition to the photo shoots. At one point we ran into the ‘ice god’ who had risen out of the ocean to keep a close watch on us.

On arrival at Bandits, the heater was fired up and soon the hut was toasty warm so it was just a simple matter of heating up dinner: Lesley’s delicious cooking conveniently sealed in cryovac packages. This was followed by very interesting conversation and then sipping hot mulled wine on the deck outside the hut admiring the beauty and silence that is Antarctica.

On the Saturday Darren and Ladge headed out to have a look at Michelson’s Cairn but due to fading light decided to stop short and climbed a nearby peak to admire the view, and ponder why penguins chose to climb so high to build their nests, as there were many around the highest parts of the island.

Returning to Bandits as the last of the light faded, we discovered that fresh Hägg tracks in the snow glow like cats eyes in the headlights so the return trip was made easy by just following our own tracks with no need to navigate by GPS.

Ladge Kviz