The Hägglund/field travel training team gets blizzed in at Platcha hut

Platcha hut and the Christmas pudding

Station Leader Esther, head dieso Kingy, Field Trainer Ian and I (station plumber Josh) assembled for our trip into the field for Hägglund & field travel training and hut inductions. Our destination was Platcha hut, located at the base of the ice plateau and alongside a frozen lake. Along the way we took turns driving the Hägg on the ice, getting used to the terrain and at one stage driving with the windshield blocked out to test our GPS skills.

The route to Platcha hut was not yet opened for the season, which meant we had to stop and drill the ice depth at regular intervals to make sure it was safe to proceed. This was achieved and when we arrived around 4pm, it was nearly fully dark.

The last visitors to Platcha were in November 2020 so the door needed digging out from the build-up of snow. The generator was quickly fired up, gas turned on and we had the power and heating on in no time. A reheated meal from station made for a nice hut dinner. The winds had picked up by this stage so we settled in for night of rattling and rocking outside to send us off to sleep.

We woke up and completed our 8am morning radio call back to station, fired the heater up then took our time packing up as we wouldn’t have enough light to leave until after 11.30am. The weather had worsened by this stage, though we decided to head off as planned. After a short distance in the Hägg where the blasting snow blocked all visibility, we decided to turn back to the refuge of Platcha hut.

We’d only planned for one night so had not come prepared for an extended stay. Esther quickly found the only book on offer: sixties novel “Confessions of a gas man” and retired to her bunk. Ian, Kingy and I found the games cabinet and passed the day away playing cards, chess and checkers. Come dinner time we’d exhausted our food from the day before so it was slim pickings. While the rest of us were content with cheese and biccies, Kingy had discovered a tinned family size Christmas cake sitting on the shelf. He decided to have a crack. After an hour boiling the tin in water, it was ready. We watched on as he proceeded to devour the 12 serves of fruit pudding. Before long Kingy's eyes had fully glazed over as his body attempted to digest the massive feast: he had turned into a carpet snake. After he managed to slither up to his top bunk, the rest of us soon followed for another early night listening to the wind outside.

By the morning the wind had dropped off and it looked like we might be able to make it back to station. After 14 hours straight of no movement whatsoever from carpet snake Kingy on the top bunk, he eventually stirred around 10am, putting to bed our worry that we had lost him in the night to the Christmas pudding. We packed up once again and headed back home to Davis. While we never sighted the glacier or lake in their glory, we did witness a man take on a family-size family pudding and win.

Josh Owens