October at Davis station is perhaps the best month to get out and about in the Antarctic oasis that is the Vestfold Hills.
The sea around station, still frozen from winter, creates pathways through the bays and fjords that can be driven through to find the less explored spots around station. This of course could have been done months ago, the only difference being, the sun is now back, temperatures are up and the animals have returned. So when a blizzard damaged a remote heli-pad at Platcha Hut, the few of us tasked with repairing it thought to detour to Taaffe Ridge to hike through the valley below and summit the peak at its end.
We began the trip with a short bumpy Hägglunds ride that took us past thousands of Adélie penguins and on to a small island where a group of Weddell seals had recently had their pups. After some wandering around taking pictures, we were back in the Hägg and on our way to Platcha where a few hours were spent repairing the timber and changing out the screws in the heli-pad. With the work all complete, we then settled in for a night of cheese and Uno in the hut, ready for the hike in the morning.
A couple more kilometres of driving in the morning and we were parked up near Taaffe Ridge and on our way. The roughly 11km walk took us over some spectacular frozen lakes, past huge ice cliffs to the top of the peak where we were rewarded with a view over the Vestfold Hills. This was definitely my favourite of the hikes I have done in Antarctica and with my season here nearly at an end, not a bad way to say goodbye to this place.
Plumber and Head of Intelligence