A couple of weeks ago Paul, John B and myself left Mawson early and headed west on the sea ice towards the Stanton group of islands, a journey of around 50 kilometres each way. The purpose of this recon trip was to prove the sea ice thickness and identify any hazards on the route. This would make the major trip to Taylor Glacier — a further 50km away and immediately after midwinter — a lot quicker. An area of land next to the Taylor Glacier is home to a colony of emperor penguins and each year they are photographed so that a census of their numbers can be taken.
The sea ice thickness was all well above what is required for travel in a Hägglunds, but we did encounter a few tide cracks that needed closer investigation and also some areas of second year sea ice that were fairly rough. At the end of the day, we managed to cross all of the tide cracks and skirt around the majority of the rough areas.
The weather was brilliant, with no cloud and no wind, the sun rising just high enough to roll along the horizon for a few hours before setting again. The colours in the sky at this time of year are amazing. Different hues of mauve and pink grow darker and darker in the diminishing light and then, just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, the moon started to appear above the plateau so we pulled up and just watched it come up until it was clear of the horizon.
All of that said, it was a highly productive and most enjoyable day.