This week marked our first long weekend for several months so as predicted the field intentions board quickly filled up. It was a perfect opportunity to get off station and see our new winter wonderland after our first ‘blizz’ of the season.
The first overnight work/recreation trip was booked by Woll (Warren), Aaron, Glenn and Jason. The lads departed for Bandits hut on the quad bikes Friday morning at first light(ish), 11:00am. While the sun itself will remain hidden for the next 6 weeks we still get several hours of twilight each day, which is enough to travel by and in turn makes for some amazing skies full of pinks and oranges. The guys at Bandits installed a new oven and fixed the lighting circuit before settling in for their Friday night in the field perched on an island overlooking “Iceberg alley”.
The next trip to depart was a day trip on the quad bikes to the Sørsdal Glacier which sits at the southern end of our operating limits in the Vestfold Hills. Again, we (Simon, Glen, Iain and myself) left just before day break and departed in the twilight, which we are more than accustomed to now. Although as we navigated our way south through the fjords and icebergs the light was yielding poor visibility with some light blowing snow. Unsure of our chances of spotting the glacier we decided to continue. Worst case scenario was that we would obtain some extra sea ice depth measurements, which is always helpful because after all we are down here for science. However, much to our amazement upon arriving a Kazak Island we could ever so faintly see a massive shape forming on the horizon, so we found a high point to scale and we were immediately rewarded with a clearing in the weather and spectacular view of the face of the Sørsdal glacier and the open ocean, which has also been missed since everything we can see from station had frozen over months ago. After taking in the vista in the balmy −10 (which is pleasant these days) we decided to keep riding inland to find some more views and lakes. Regrettably we were turned around by a giant boulder field of rafted ice spanning several kilometres. So, we found a sheltered spot for a cuppa and turned our quad bikes north for home. Awesome trip, with spectacular views and weather (visibility not included).
And finally, on Monday Graham and Simon took advantage of the light snow left by last week’s blizzard by taking the skis out onto the sea ice in front of station to explore the local islands and grounded icebergs. Returning at dusk to close out the weekend all of us now on station look towards the mid-winters celebrations to come next week.