Field Training: Travel Part 1 – Trajer Ridge

Another very important Field Training exercise was – safe travel in the field, especially the Vestfold Hills. The first part of this training was to fly to Trajer Ridge which is around 21km east of Davis Station

One of the most exciting things to do in Antarctica is to get a flight in a helicopter.

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Approaching the helipad to board our flight to Trajer Ridge

When taking a helicopter flight from Davis – We bring our survival pack and other cargo to the Heli-hut. This is the “arrival/departure lounge” at Davis. It is made up out of four containers that have been fitted out. This building was at Davis when I was at this station in the summer of 2005/06. Inside you will find drawings and the names of many of the expeditioners that have passed through this wonderful station.

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The interior of the Heli-Hut. The painting on the right is on the entrance door to the hut
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The opposite wall of the interior of the Heli- Hut

The following is a short video – departing Davis for Trajer Ridge.

The flight route – departed Davis to East-Northeast following a string of lakes – Dingle Lake, Lake Stinear and then across Deep Lake.

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Kerryn, Rob  and FTO Nick were also on the flight
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Dingle Lake below with the elongated Lake Stinear in the middle then onto Deep Lake at the end

 

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Toby – Our pilot for today 

Deep Lake is a hypersaline lake which is 27% salt, making it 10 times saltier then the ocean. Because of its salt content it never freezes, even when the temperature of the air above drops to -30℃ to -40℃ (-22℉ to -40℉). The surface temperature of the lake can drop to  -20℃ in winter. Surprisingly the lake harbours a unique flora of salt-loving Archaea that survive at temperatures way below freezing.

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Flying over the eastern shore of Deep Lake

After Deep Lake we proceeded east  towards the Plateau and Trajer Ridge.

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Club Lake, on the left follows another valley to the northeast – next to it is Lake Jabs
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Approaching Trajer Ridge with the Ice Plateau on the horizon

We passed over Trajer Ridge and the snow filled narrow valley to the south of the ridge. We then flew a tight curve around a high (124 metres above sea level) hill to approach the Trajer Melon (refuge) across Pauk Lake.

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Just south of the high cliff of the hill to approach the Trajer valley across the lower Pauk Lake

The following is video of the approach to Trajer Melon (refuge)

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Approaching the snow covered Trajer Valley over a un-named lake
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Looking west down the valley with Trajer Ridge on the right (north) – You can see the Trajer Melon perched on the small hill on the left
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Coming in to land on the snow near the Trajer Ridge Melon

After landing on the snow, we crouched down with our packs just in front of the helicopter. After the helicopter  disappeared to the west, we gathered our packs and decided to go to the hut and have some lunch. We got to the rapidly moving melt stream just below the hut. From our side it looked as though the stream was to wide.

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After landing, we donned our packs and headed towards the hut
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The hut is so close but yet so far – decided not to cross the melt stream
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The small melt lake near Trajer Melon is and amazing azure blue in colour
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A closer look at the beautiful, serene melt lake near Trajer Melon

Our FTO, Nick, decided we would go for a walk, carrying our survival pack up the high hill just the west then approach the hut from the slope.

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We headed west along the bank of snow – Trajer Ridge is on the right

The Vestfold Hills is home to many snow petrels. Where there are snow petrels there are also Antarctic skuas. Snow petrels are hunted by the skuas, so all through the hills you will find body parts and bones of the victims. In many cases all you find of the petrels is their wings.

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A pair of snow petrel wings (angel wings) in the melt lake
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getting ready to climb the steep slope of the 124 metre hill – A great example of a dolerite dyke (seam) which criss cross the Vestfold Hills
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Rob and Kerryn climbing the steep hill
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Another snow petrel wing amongst the Vestfold rocks
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There was some heat here in the distant past
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Nearing the top of the hill
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The stunning landscape seen from the slope of the hill opposite Trajer Ridge
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The vivid turquoise blue colour of Copper oxide seeping from a rock
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Rob nears the top of the hill where the view to the Northwest is spectacular – Trajer Ridge lies on the opposite side of the narrow snow covered valley
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Near the top of the hill – Nature’s Art – comprising of colourful patterned rocks and lichen
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View from the top of the hill (124m ASL) – you catch a glimpse of Lake Druzhby on the right and the larger Crooked Lake on the left
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View to the East from the top of the hill – Trajer Ridge on the left, The Ice plateau straight ahead and a glimpse of Pauk Lake in front of Rob and Kerryn
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Beautiful rock collection near the top of the hill
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Just one more gentle slope before reaching Trajer Ridge Melon

After descending the gentler eastern slope of the hill we finally made it to the Trajer Melon. We stopped here for lunch and a cup of tea.

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The welcome sight of Trajer Melon – a cosy refuge in the eastern Vestfold Hills

The Trajer Melon was removed and replaced by a newer larger structure during the summer. We were some of the last expeditioners to take advantage of its comforts.

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Rob and Kerryn enjoy lunch and a nice hot cuppa inside the Trajer Ridge Melon

After lunch we packed up and left Trajer Ridge Melon. This time we successfully crossed the snow melt rapids.

 

After safely crossing the melt stream we set off to the west on the next part of our field training.

This will feature in the next post…..

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Field Training: Travel Part 1 – Trajer Ridge

  1. Thanks Barry for an interesting read. Loved seeing the photos of the landscape and inside the huts and really enjoyed the videos from the helicopter.

    Like

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