A journey into the southeast Vestfold Hills

A Glimpse into the Southeast

The southeast Vestfold Hills contains some pretty amazing scenery which takes in the mighty Sørsdal Glacier, numerous charming lakes, several gorges, a canyon and the must be seen from the top, Boulder Hill! It is also one of the most remote areas in the Station Operating Area and not always readily accessible. The 2019 summer was a high melt year, delaying access to the area until near the end of the season. A long hike back to station following the southern extremity of Crooked Lake was undertaken by some keen walkers which took in many river crossings, numbing our rock beaten feet momentarily – ah, the memories.

Early winter saw the far southeast once again difficult to get to until the area reopened to travel just last week. My wife Rachel got a winter gig at the last minute and we hadn't been off station together without an entourage since summer, so it was a novelty to take the opportunity for a mid-week adventure, just like we would at home in a COVID free society!

We commandeered a Hägg and left station early in the morning, escorted by three quad riders comprising of key station personnel who needed to confirm Tierney River was safe for Hägg transit before opening up the vast southeast for travel. The day was splendidly clear, albeit a bit cold, definitely 'cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey'! The mercury dropped to -32 degrees celsius that day providing one more challenge, especially to those on quads assessing the crossing point for Hägg travel. Tierney River access to Crooked Lake proved to be safely navigable and we left our chilled quad riders to make their way back to station.

We parked the Hägg in a little bay at the western end of Crooked Lake and hiked over the ice into Mossel Lake, up Tierney Creek and onto Chelnok Lake which butts up against the Sørsdal Glacier. The sun was skimming over the top of the northern hills at this stage casting a golden glow over the snow and ice. Photo stops were short to minimise losing fingers – did I mention it was cold? From here we ventured west onto Pineapple Lake, where a group of us had bivvied in summer, to take in the contrasting winter landscape before returning to the Hägg. The plan was to stay at Crooked Lake Apple but the electric heater we brought with us looked like it had come from the local 2 dollar shop and was hardly up for the challenge of warming the small space, so we spent the night at good old Watts Hut.

The next day we ventured back up onto Crooked Lake under an overcast sky and visited Talg, Hidden and Grimmia Gorges before climbing Boulder Hill. The view was stunning and the silence deafening, especially without the lovely Ms McGee chatting away next to you – Jenn loves to talk!

The trip back to station was uneventful with light snow greeting us on arrival and a station gearing up for the 48 Hour Film Festival and a weekend of blizzard conditions.

Damien Everett

Senior Meterological Observer