Mother Nature messes with expeditioners' plans

Mount Hordern

Spending a weekend away camping in the summer time is more often than not spent sitting around a campsite in wet boardies and sleeping with the swag zipped open. Not so much in Antarctica though.

The notorious winds were against us but 8 of us decided to head far away out of the Mawson city limits to Mt.Hardon, 40km from station. Although it doesn’t sound far, and it’s not, it certainly feels like it is. The plan was to head to bed before waking up, fresh as daisies, on the Saturday morning ready to climb the peak that was sitting in view behind our tents. Looking up at the summit of Mt. Hordern from camp it resembled no more than three rocks the size of chairs sitting loosely on top of each other. Field Training Officer Mark advised us it wasn’t much more than that.

Sleeping in tents down here is always a good reminder of how much the wind hates us. Just as you drift to sleep in your cosy sleeping bag, a solid gust of wind drifts by and rattles the tent. Either that or one of the boys stayed up all night shaking it. The evil gusts were due to hang around all of the following day, so the climb was off the cards. Exploring was on the cards. There is supposedly an old fuel cache depot, from way back in the inland aviation days, that we decided to see if we could locate. We headed another 40km or so south to the Twin Top mountains. Unfortunately the fuel depot was nowhere to be found, so we decided to trek up of the hills close by. It was the first time, looking south during my year down here, that I couldn’t see any mountains or hills beyond us. To have a 180 degree view of blank whiteness was pretty incredible. It highlighted just how far from life we were, a reminder to be on our best behaviour, which of course we were.

After cooking up a pretty impressive feast on the back of the trailer for dinner, we all got horizontal and nodded off. The gusts weren’t as cruel the second night but they still reminded us who was boss.

Waking up on Sunday the plan of climbing Mt. Hordern was back in full swing. We packed up camp and drove to the base of the mountain. The wind hadn’t dropped out, but we decided to head up to the base of the climb and hopefully wait it out. We patiently waited an hour and half, but Mother Nature was being stubborn and she wouldn’t help us out. The semi-exposed climb would not have been safe in those conditions, so we pulled the pin and cruised back to the Hägglunds. Although we didn’t reach the top peak it’s always a treat going off station especially going deep into parts that feel like they been forgotten.

Yours truly,

Todd Heery