Survival training completed!

First group out for survival and field training

In preparation for the winter fieldwork coming up, the DAP (Davis Aerodrome Project) field team were first off the rank for winter survival training last week. After sorting out survival packs and rations, and a bit of training in the Häggs, the international team of Canadians, Irish, Kiwi and our Ozzy translator headed out for the 74th ANARE’s first night off-station, and a cold night in the bivvy bags ahead. The walk to the bivvy site warmed everyone up, and the team set about picking the best perches and wallows to set up their crisp-packets, in close reach of the refuge of the DAP melons in case the weather took a turn for the worse. After fumbling with cooking up the retro rations, and a few slabs of chocolate to keep the cold at bay, it was time to retreat to the summer sleeping bags for the night. The team arranged a buddy system to check in on each other to make sure everyone was doing ok overnight, which two participants really took to heart, and demonstrated their ongoing survival throughout the night with a duet of snoring that would make the elephant seals back at station jealous. The Antarctic winter did its best to welcome us overnight, with temperatures hovering around -20°C, and a glowing green sky for anyone that braved sticking their face outside of their bivvy bags to enjoy it.

After a trip back to station for a few days to avoid a bit of nasty weather, the team headed back out for a walk to Brookes Hut to finish off their navigation training, and to demonstrate the effects of quarantine and a long boat trip on fitness levels. With our FTO (Field Training Officer) displaying a real knack for picking weather windows, the trip out to Brookes was completed in perfect calm and ideal temperatures for a walk. After arriving at the hut around mid day, the last of the survival training was wrapped up through the afternoon, and the team played cards and enjoyed the off-station calm of the hut for the rest of the evening. The Canadian’s training was wrapped up with some instruction and practice on their Australian vocabulary, and a warm night in the hut made the night in the bivvys a distant memory. After waiting out a bit of wind the next morning, the group walked back to the Häggs under blue skies and headed back to station, all trained up and ready to go exploring.

Tiarnán Colgan