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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…..