Two station electricians have a break from work and head out into the field for the weekend.

Peddle Power

The sea ice at Davis has to be one of its best attractions. Sure it’s fun to take advantage of motorised methods of transport with their fancy heaters and comforts. But what about those that provide more mechanical advantage than walking, like skiing or mountain bike riding? 

This was a discussion that Jason D & I (Graham) had been having for a while, so after we found a weekend where we were both free we decided to just go for it. Brookes Hut is the closest to station, approximately 17km, so for our first trip we decided that this was our best choice. However it was still undecided should we ride or ski, both would be fun.

We managed to recruit another expeditioner, Chris to join the team. He however was less keen on the idea of 34km ski or ride, so he opted to be our quad support vehicle. This was awesome for us, as he could tow a trailer and take our field packs and all the other important stuff like food, so we didn’t have to carry it. 

In the end it was the weather decided for us, with not enough snow cover mountain bikes were the way to go. The weather was good when we set off. Winds about 5 to 10 knots which on the way there was always going to be a head wind. 

Our fatboy bikes were equipped with chains to give us more grip on the ice. Ice with a light snow cover was nice to ride on and looked quite picturesque. Dirty ice however didn’t look as pretty but with no snow it provided less resistance and was very nice to ride on. 

For about 75 per cent of our trip we managed to traverse on snow and dirty ice, however there were large sections of uncovered ice. This looks quite nice, you can see different shades of blue and air bubbles that have been trapped but it’s very slippery, way too slippery to ride on. So we donned our micro spikes and pushed our trusty steeds. Chris on the other hand didn’t need micro spikes and I’m sure his heated hand grips were very nice. 

We made it to Brookes in good time, by having Chris’ trailer we could bring all the comforts from home, fresh clothes, lots of cheese and bickies, hut booties and board games. Jason taught us the finer points of ‘Unexploded Cow’ and there were a few rounds of Monopoly Deal and of course our favourite Batman Love Letters. 

The next day’s trip home was much easier, rather than trying to ride on the nice looking ice we knew we had to just walk. We were also better at picking our course and with the wind behind us, it made for better riding conditions.

By Graham — Electrician.

Stocktake or weekend in the field

With the sun’s return being the harbinger of our last few months here at Davis, we must now begin stocktaking and ordering to resupply all the bits & bobs we’ve used over the year…or would you rather I tell you about last weekend’s trip to Watts Hut?

I thought so…

Whilst the forecasts weren’t looking too promising, we (Jason D, Terry, Chris & I) were not about to let a little wind stop of us from a jaunt around the corner to Watts and up onto frozen Lakes Druzhby and Crooked.

Watts sits at the end of Ellis Fjord (about 10–12km from station on the sea ice), and is the perfect place to head to for a night away of board games, tall tales and maybe even some aurora spotting. Sadly there was a little too much cloud to spy any lights in the sky on this night, but with 4 of Davis’ biggest eaters in a small locale there was plenty else to keep us engaged. Be it Chris’ lamb shanks, Jason’s perfectly-cooked mash & cheese selections, Terry’s party platters or my cheese toasties (mornings are my domain), some would say we eat better in the field than on station (just kidding Rocket).

The nearby lakes are some of the most spectacular sights to see close to Davis. If not for the surrounding landscape, but also for the way the lakes freeze post-summer leaving millions of small bubbles trapped in the ice.

The trip to Grimmia Gorge took us across Druzhby and Crooked Lakes, through a mix of narrower passes and open expanses. The Gorge is worth a trip to see the frozen waterfall that’s coming down from the Antarctic Plateau, though one can be forgiven for wishing that water was a lot warmer!

Sunday’s travels took us back onto Druzhby joined by a few extras to our crew, and whilst some opted for ice skating, the rest of us were back on the quads to check out the northern side of the lake. Before too long though, it’s time to regroup, have one last brew in the warmth of the hut and then it’s back on bikes and heading home.

These next few months are known to be some of the best for field trips. With the wildlife soon to start returning and the days becoming longer, the Trip Intentions board will be filling more and more, so stay tuned for the photos!

Aaron — Electrician.