The Final Frontier

ciprofloxacin and tinidazole tablets   It was just over 2yrs ago a Ken Borak Air Twin Otter under charter for the Italians, piloted by Bob Heath,crewed by Perry Anderson and Mike Denton, crashed into the side of Mt Elizabeth. KBA (Ken Borak Air) contract annually to the AAD( Australian Antarctic Division) to transport Expeditioners between stations, the Crew where well known and respected by the AAD and my fellow Expeditioners. The news of the accident came as a shock and rocked the AAD stations. As a tribute and in memory of Bob, Perry and Mike the Annual KBA Challenge was established. The Second Inaugral KBA challenge between Casey and Davis station was held on Feb 14, the goal of this station event is to cover as many Kilometres on Skis, Bike, Running or Walking to accumulate a larger overall distance than the other station (Davis). Our coarse was a 22.9km circuit to the Skiway return. The Skiway is located on the Plateau, 11km uphill from the station.

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 The track was cut up the hill with a D7 Dozer and a dragbar creating a  surprisingly suitable path for running and riding on the snow. With Subzero temperatures and Blue Skies it was a perfect day for the event. While half the station where transported to the top for a relaxed return walk, a handful of us ran/rode the half marathon ( I rode). After a gruelling leg burner into a 19kt headwind I finally reached the top and was swiftly rewarded with a lightning fast 10min downhill gliding over the snow and ice, hooting at the others making there way up/down the hill.

Burning up the Plateau

Burning up the Plateau

The view from the top over Newcomb Bay

The view from the top over Newcomb Bay, pack ice in the distance.

 A massive shootout to all involved, it took a lot of preparation and organising to run such a successful event. Caseys numbers where sweetly crunched totalling at over 460km! smashing Davis’ total of just over 280. The day was later topped off with the end of Summer Dinner, a formal meal much like Christmas to celebrate an enjoyable and successful Season.

First over the line!

First over the line!

 With the last weekend of the season apon us, we had our trip application approved to take a 3.5hr Hagglund drive to Brownings Peninsula for the 2 days. This Peninsula is adjacent to the Vanderford Glacier, an 8km wide Ice Berg Factory first discovered by the Americans under Captain Wilkes between 1838-42. Under the glacier is the Vanderford Valley, at 2287m deep it is one of the deepest ice carved valleys in the world.

We left for Brownings early and made it to the Plateau for sunrise

We left for Brownings early and made it to the Plateau for sunrise

Our trusty red steed

Our trusty red steed

 

No words needed....

No words needed….

 

The Peninsula itself is geographically very different to the landscape surrounding Casey, with rugged, loosely packed peaks diving steeply into the ocean below. It is also home to Elephant Seal Colonies and Orcas are often spotted here. Just beyond Brownings is the Windmill Islands, this area was used by the US navy during 1947-48 for exploration and training missions. The name was derived from the extensive use of Helicopters during the operation here.

The Vanderford Glacier

The Vanderford Glacier

 

Giant Crevass Field

Giant Crevass Field

 

Browning Peninsula

Browning Peninsula

 

Stitching these peaks together are a series of frozen lakes and rivers, the Ice on these lakes is so clear you see right through to the bottom. On the edge of the Peninsula we climbed down a rocky face to an Elephant Seal Colony. From a distance they camouflage into the rocky landscape only revealed by the strong stench of there wallow.

Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals

 

Mother and Pup

Mother and Pup

 

You have to wonder how these 3-4 Tonne mammals drag there massive blubbery bodies out of the ocean and up the rocks. As we approach they show little concern for our presence and continue to relax side by side in a puddle of there own waste. In the middle is the beachmaster, a large male surrounded by 6 females. He has blood and puss leaking from his right eye, he has recently been fighting with another male for domination of the Colony. Injuries are common in these furious battles.

The Beachmaster

The Beachmaster

 

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After walking over 15km around the Peninsula we returned to the Hut for a hot meal and a cold Lager, a perfect way to end another incredible day and of coarse an incredible season.

Looking over the Windmill Islands

Looking over the Windmill Islands

Sneaky Ice cave shot by Jay Burgers

Sneaky Ice cave shot by Jay Burgers

 

End of an Adventure shot by Jay Burgers

End of an Adventure shot by Jay Burgers

Today brings our flight back to Australia and Civilisation, i cannot thank everyone enough for this experience it has been truly life changing, but its time for the next adventure. South America and Endless Lefthand Pointbreaks await. I will be writing and shooting my South American Adventures and Stories and continuing the never-ending search for what is Behind that Compass…..

Travel Time

  So after an amazing festive season we dove into 2015 with some solid working weeks bringing some much needed consistency back into station life. My first Job for the year was to spend a week up a Wilkins aerodrome ticking off further maintenance work on the buildings at the runway. This beautiful and remote location really provides the antarctic experience that i had been craving, a sense of utter insignificance as i stand alone amongst a White and Blue glowing desert. This feeling really makes me realise how much of a speck I am in the scheme of things.

Wilkins Dawn

Wilkins Dawn

 

Glowing Blizz tails

Glowing Blizz tails

 After driving across the antarctic circle and back to station, the next weeks where topped off with Recreational Trips (Jollies) out to the field huts on the weekends. Casey has 3 huts (Jacks, Robbos and Brownings) that can be visited on the weekend giving us the opportunity to get off base and explore what the surrounding coastline has to offer. There is also Wilkes base across Newcomb Bay, abandoned in the 60’s it still has a Cabin sleeping 8 people that we can use (the Wilkes Hilton)

Wilkes Station

Wilkes Station

Chilling in the Wilkes Hilton

Chilling in the Wilkes Hilton

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Ice Caves

Peace Man!

Two expeditioners laid to rest overlooking Wilkes

Two expeditioners laid to rest overlooking Wilkes

 This Station was built by the Americans and was given to the Australians, it was later found out that the Location of the Base was one of the main reasons for this exchange as it was a constant battle to keep the snow drifts out of station. Amongst the exposed rooftops of the building are crates apon crates of left over supplies including cherries, 50yr old SPAM and Iron flakes. These are also accompanied by thousands of old Fuel and Oil Drums encased in solid Ice.

Preserved Supplies

Preserved Supplies Litter the Station

Sunsets over abandoned fuel drums

Sunsets over abandoned fuel drums

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Inside the old satellite dome

Inside the old satellite dome

 For my birthday we stayed at Jacks Hut which is located a 45min Hagglund ride to the East of Casey. This Hut sits on the Morraine Line overlooking a large Glacier. A Morraine is a Line of Exposed Rocks at the Edge of a Glacier. A wide variety of rocks (including Meteorites) are found here which become a hunting ground for Geologists. These rocks have been pushed, rolled and crushed from the internals of the Glacier covering huge distances before finally being spat into the Ocean as the Frozen river moves slowly downstream. Similar rocks found in this area are also found in South Australia, proof of where the two Continents were once joined. Sitting on these rocks as the sunsets for a brief moment, we can feel the rocks cracking and shuddering beneath, 50m down you can hear them launching from the cliff face into the Freezing Ocean. This Whole Landscape is Alive!

Jacks Donga

Jacks Donga

 

The toilet with the worlds best veiw

The toilet on the Morraine Line with the worlds best veiw

View from Jacks toilet

View from Jacks toilet

 Last weekend i was lucky enough to get out on travel training. This 2 day adventure involved Riding around on Quad bikes learning navigation, trip leadership, survival and rescue skills. The conditions had been sunny and a soaring 3 degrees, turning any small melt streams into an icy quagmire. We travelled out onto the Plateau, stopped past the Skiway to check out the Aircraft, then spent the night at Jacks Donga. The Next day we rode to Robbos hut for lunch where we got to tip toe through the moss beds before riding back through the melt towards station. Every 5m i was driving into an ice covered melt hole where id break through the surface and end up bogged knee deep in slush, the 4 of us would skull drag the bikes out and repeat the process again as we moved along our given route. Admitting Defeat we where forced to ride further uphill to traverse over the smaller streams and make our way back to base.

Quad bike Bivvy Tents

Quad bike Bivvy Tents

Keep your eyes peeled!

Keep your eyes peeled!

Stopped past the Skiway to check out the Bazzler and Twin Otter

Stopped past the Skiway to check out the Bazzler and Twin Otter

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Moss Beds near Robbos Hut

Moss Beds near Robbos Hut

 Australia Day… Many would say the best day of the Year, certainly delivered the goods. I awoke pumped and ready to jump in on the Annual Antarctic Australia Day swim. Nothing can prepare you for taking the plunge into sub zero water. Dressed up in summer outfits and skimpy swimwear we trekked it to the wharf where we ran into the Ocean, after 30 seconds your whole body goes completely numb and the sensation of burning acid starts lashing your skin, its a wild experience. After thawing out we played Cricket and jammed out to the Hottest 100 for the rest of the day.

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A Half melted Igloo some crew built

Half melted Igloo built by the Casey Crew

Pretty Melt Stream

 Melt Stream

 With only a few weeks remaining here this season its hard to believe I arrived almost 3mths ago. So far its been one of the most incredible and eye opening experiences of my life. Surrounded by such a great team its impossible not to have a great time. Cant wait until next season!

The 2014/15 Summer Casey Trade Team

The 2014/15 Summer Casey Trade Team