Living in one of the world’s most inhospitable places for 12 months is quite an experience. You come to realise this place is not made for people to live in, unless you bring your own source of heat. You will freeze or die of thirst surrounded by the world’s biggest supply of fresh water.
Sometimes it’s hard to get your mind around how big and inhospitable this place is. For those of us lucky enough to call Australia home, we have some idea of the space and distance we need to travel as we move around our fantastic continent. But no matter how hot and dry it can get, you can still manage to find life.
Well, Antarctica is about six million km² bigger that Australia and pretty much devoid of life other than what lives on the coastal fringe. With less than one percent of the Antarctic continent ice-free, and with temperatures as low as minus 90° Celsius, life struggles to survive here.
Here at Davis we get to explore the Vestfold Hills. A 200 km² ice-free area of jagged hills, cliffs and bluffs, that have been stripped bare by long-gone glaciers from previous ice ages. The result is both valleys with lakes of extreme salinity and pristine lakes of clear blue fresh water, filled by summer melt streams that run down from the ice plateau and Sørsdal Glacier. These hills are covered with countless ribbons of black volcanic dykes that criss-cross their way into the distant hills and disappear under the blue ice plateau of the Antarctic continent
On a recent trip off station Dani, Hana, Sacha and I got to spend some time exploring the area of Lake Druzhby, Crooked Lake and parts surrounding the Sørsdal Glacier. Planning to use Watts Hut as a base, we left station in the blue Hägglunds and headed off on to the sea ice for our quick trip to Watts, arriving there not long after 5pm for the 2-night stay.
With a large cheese platter and a few drinks, we got down the main business of the night. Cards and Farkel (a dice game). As Sacha and I are both gentlemen we let the ladies win, but only just, as I recall. (10/0)
With a little bit of a lie-in the next morning, we were back into the Hägglunds for our day exploring the lakes. With Dani at the helm we were out onto Lake Druzhby and up over the land-bridge onto Crooked Lake. After a few stops for holiday pics of the lakes along the way, we made our way closer to the Sørsdal. After parking the Hägg it was backpacks on, and we were off on foot for a short stroll over to the edge of the Sørsdal (a safe distance of more than 250m from the edge). With enough selfies and pics of the glacier we decided to return back to the warmth of the Hägg. With Dani back at the helm, we were off to explore Crooked Lake again.
With enough photos to fill several albums it was time to head back to Watts Hut for tea. Once we had tea over with, it was time for cheese, drinks and revenge for last night’s flogging. Not naming names (never one to throw someone under the bus) my male offsider let the boy’s team down, with only one win to his name over two nights. Lord Farkel, I think not!
With a good night sleep, it was up early to load up the Hägg and get back to station, unpack and fill up the Hägg ready for the next trip all in time for Saturday brunch. We definitely didn't want to miss that.
Plumber, official trip photographer and occassional UNO winner