It was time for the beast to make its presence felt at Mawson. The beast in question is the Foremost Pioneer, a 1960s large oversnow cargo vehicle. ‘The Beast’ is powered by a 3306 Caterpillar engine driving wide steel and rubber tracks on an articulated frame. Its cargo carrying capacity is 15 tonnes and it comes equipped with a large Hiab crane.
This vehicle has, over the years, done excellent service in the Antarctic and there are plans for its replacement in future. Annually, the Pioneer is used for decommissioning the ski landing area (SLA) at Rumdoodle. The SLA at Rumdoodle is used by fixed winged aircraft after the SLA on the sea ice at Mawson becomes unusable due to melt. The Pioneer uses its Hiab crane to remove the poles secured in the ice marking the SLA limits. It also uses its cargo carrying capacity to return three sleds to Mawson, two carried on the tray and one towed.
The Pioneer made a stately 10 km/h to and from the SLA. A vehicle of this vintage must be driven with compassion and care.
John L and Paul