Working on Woop Woop
Last week’s blog post was delayed by nearly half a day due to the trip I will tell you about today. I knew I wouldn’t want to sit on these pictures for a week after returning to station, so I kept the post queue empty. and after an almost late night last night the photos are ready to go!
Here we are shortly after leaving station. We were a group of five people, traveling in two Hagglunds. Each Hagglunds had a trailer with equipment to be taken up to Woop Woop and left there for the coming flying season. In this shot, the two drivers are checking their loads to ensure everything is still tightly strapped down after the first rough patch of sastrugi.
Of course we can hardly be blamed for stopping a couple of times on the way up to take photos. Our route takes us up the coast (on the sea ice) into Long Fjord and then up one of the few safe ramps onto the plateau. A convenient side-effect of this is that our scenery was the sun rising over the icebergs, with the moon just about to set.
We did make very good time up onto the plateau. I have no photos what-so-ever of the work that we did up there. The weather conditions when we arrived were as good as could possibly be hoped for (which is to say -20C and only 5-10 knots of wind, which is as still as Woop Woop gets thanks to the katabatic wind), so we got straight to work. In fact, what we had expected to take two days instead took us one afternoon.
That was most fortunate, as it turned out, because later that afternoon the katabatic wind started to pick up more than forecast. We awoke to 100km/h winds with perhaps 20 metres of visibility thanks to the blowing snow. It wasn’t safe to go outside with any uncovered skin at all, and upon returning inside the snow trapped in every nook and cranny would melt and wet everything. These were the type (if not the severity) of conditions we were expecting to work in, hence our elation at being finished in one afternoon.
Notwithstanding, it was still a little miserable for all five of us to be stuck twiddling our thumbs in the ‘Sprunky van’; probably the smallest accommodation for four people in the entire of Davis. When the weather eased and the sun improved visibility a little after noon, we made the most of the weather window and headed back down the hill.
Twice there was a short break in the blowing snow, and both times we stopped to take more photos. With all of the wind-blow features, it’s hard to take a bad photo (though it’s very hard to get colour and contrast when everything is white and diffusely-lit).
On the way we retrieved a small cache of camping equipment that had previously been placed by the Field Training Officers, and then made our way to Bandits Hut as the light failed. This is the same hut as from a previous post, and has become a favourite destination for our winter crew. We dug in for the night, figuratively speaking, and had a great night’s sleep after the rough night up on the plateau previously.
Once again we arose, and all of the maintenance to be done within the hut was finished in quick time. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and headed back to station…stopping on the way to take more photos.
It was a rather cold, windy and exhausting trip. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world though, as aside from feeling protective of my comms equipment (and thus wanting it all to work, which is currently is not at Woop Woop), I also wouldn’t miss the experience of simple tasks being made uniquely challenging by the extreme weather.
This week I leave you with the use I made of two nights of clear sky with no moon. The first was taken up at Woop Woop and shows the Hagglunds; the second is Bandits Hut from a different angle than previously shot. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do 🙂