The last couple of weeks has seen Davis celebrate three birthdays starting with Fitzy the plumber reaching the milestone half century!
A good night was enjoyed by all with Fitzy being ecstatic to receive an unexpected birthday present and the party going well into the night. This was followed last Friday with a joint birthday with Kezza our chef and Shoey the plumber turning the big 30. The night of celebration started with a magnificent spit roast followed by a poker night. Birthday boy Shoey ended up taking the chocolates, it was his birthday after all.
Barry B2 (Electrician)
Visiting Woop Woop
Last week we made it up to the plateau to retrieve our third Hägg. At the end of summer several pieces of equipment are left up at the Davis Plateau ski landing area, affectionately known as Woop Woop.
This equipment consists of two groomers, a skidsteer and a Hägg, all of which are needed up until late in the season. At the end of summer it is difficult to bring the equipment back to station; it’s too heavy to be slung by helicopters and the sea ice has gone so driving the vehicles down is also not an option.
Now in winter, we need to go and retrieve this equipment so it can be both utilised on station and serviced in preparation for next summer. Consequently, we did a trip up to Woop Woop to retrieve the Hägg. This enabled us to become familiar with the route and assess the bigger task ahead of us of retrieving the groomers and skidsteer, which we hope to do next week.
Going up to the plateau sounds romantic and exciting, but this job was more about digging than romance. Eight expeditioners left station at 8 am in total darkness, departing the sea ice and embarking on the plateau a couple of hours later. Instantly there was a strong wind. The plateau had some snow cover but it was mostly icy with corrugations of compacted snow. This made for a slow bumpy ride, but the scenery was beautiful — ice as far as the eye can see in pastel twilight.
Soon enough we came across the buildings of Woop Woop. The Hägg we had come to retrieve didn’t look too bad initially. However, upon closer examination the cabin was full of blizz and the tracks and underbelly of the vehicle were solidly encased in compacted snow. Soon we were all down on our knees trying to free the Hägg so the tracks could move and it could be reversed out.
After many hours of digging we ended up towing the Hägg out of the pit we had dug around it. This worked but the Hägg’s interior was still icy. Marc and Bryce gallantly offered to drive this frozen vehicle back to station. Eventually we got back around 6 pm, where a hot dinner was on offer, along with hot showers. It took quite a while to warm up again but it had been an exciting and satisfying day, now that we had our third Hägg back on station.
Return of the sun
The other milestone this week was the return of the sun. Our last sunset was on the 3rd of June, so we've had 37 days without the sun. At 68 degrees south we don’t have total darkness during this time but rather a couple of hours of civil twilight each day. Consequently, the return of the sun was a big deal and worthy of celebration.
To mark the occasion we met on the deck of the heli hut and had a toast to the returning orb. Luckily we had a clear sky so could see the sunrise in its full magnificence. The sun rose at 1:37pm local time and was up for 32 minutes, before setting at 2:09pm. Seeing the sun, and the entire sky, is a primal need. Instantly everyone is cheerier and excited by more light. We didn’t realise how our light had been limited to a small area on the distant horizon whereas sunrises and sunsets ignite the entire sky with colour and texture in the clouds. The novelty still hasn’t worn off as we wander around staring at the sky and having conversations about the clouds most days. The light will now steadily increase by 20 minutes or so a day. Bring it on we say.
Kirsten (Station Leader)