Early on Sunday 14 September, eight of us eagerly headed off on a traverse to the Rauer Islands group located South of the Vestfold Hills, on the other side of the Sorsdel Glacier. The Hägglunds oversnow vehicles were fully loaded with food, survival equipment, glacial travel equipment, and scientific gear as well as personal effects and bedding. Many a joke was made that we were taking everything including the kitchen sink, but it all was necessary gear, it just equated to the Häggs being very full. The journey across was long, taking a total of 12 hours, but we were all glad when we arrived at Hop Island camp around 20:00 that evening.
The following three days we split into two teams: one busily visiting 22 lakes in the Rauer Islands, whilst the other completed work on the Hop Island bird cameras, maintenance on the smartie and apple (huts), as well as extensive drilling of the sea ice around the area to make sure travel was safe. By the end of day three, all the work objectives of the trip had been completed leaving us with the ability to spend what we thought would be our fourth and final day at the Rauers sightseeing.
However, the weather decided otherwise so we spent a further three days waiting for the a suitable day to cross the Sorsdel, and return to station. During this time we were able to explore many areas in the Rauers, check the various different ramps down from the plateau, as well as complete multiple games of cards and scrabble (I believe we are all now very competent at card games 13 and 500!).
Monday finally saw a break in the weather and a beautiful day to cross the Sorsdel and return to station. Just in time too as we had finished the last of our chef prepared frozen meals, cheese and bacon, and most of us were wearing our final set clean clothes. By the time we returned, we were all glad for a nice warm shower, cold beer, freshly cooked dinner and night in our own beds. A great trip was had by all with all objectives met and much exploration of the area completed!
All those on the Rauers team would like to thank the following people for their support, without which the trip would not have been possible.
- Chef Lesley for preparing many meals in advance ensuring the team had plenty of good quality food available
- Stu and Rob for covering radio communication for nine days and for providing excellent training on HF radio prior to departing
- Doc Judy for providing first aid training prior to departing
- Ali and PJ, Scott and Michelle for providing daily weather forecasts leading up to and during the nine days at the Rauers
- All personnel remaining on station for covering various rosters
- Paul and Mark for trades support
- Dom for assistance in the greenstore
- Narelle for supporting the trip from day one, and working behind the scenes with the team during the approval and planning process
- The operations team at the Australian Antarctic Division for allowing the traverse to proceed and for their trust
Alyce Hancock and Sarah Payne