Field Training: Travel Part 2 – Walk to Watts

This is a continuation of our field training  which was covered in my last post Field Training: Travel Part 1 – Trajer Ridge  Note – there is a couple of short videos towards the end of this post.

This was to be a straight forward hike from Trajer Melon to the Hut at Watts Lake around 11 km to the Southwest.

Just leaving Trajer Ridge Melon – we had to cross a melt stream

The first part of the hike is along the deep (permanent) snow bank that fills the valley to the south of Trajer Ridge. The sides of the snow bank, closest to the ridges on either side of the valley have been scoured by the wind and one has to be very careful near these edges as they mostly have an overhanging ‘lip’.

The wind scours are an indication of the fierce winds that occur
Easy hike up the snow bank towards the Southwest

At this time of the year (January) there is also a lot of melt water flowing under the snow and close to the rocky ridges.

Melt water flowing under the bank of snow

The walk along the snow ridge is about 3.5km – there are many places that along the route for a scenic photo.

Looking back to the east towards the Ice Plateau
An example of lenticular cloud resulting from the air aloft moving quickly over the plateau
A great example of a large wind scour
The vivid blue colours of the snow melt water in the wind scour

We finally came to the end of the snow bank and climbed up a saddle. At the high point of the saddle we had amazing views, to the east along the route we had just walked as well as to the west across Lake Druzhby.

Amazing view to the east from the rocky saddle – Trajer ridge is on the left and a couple of huge wind scours on the right of the valley we had just traversed
From the rocky saddle – To the west with Lake Druzhby nestled amongst the Vestfold Hills

Just beyond the saddle we located a steep slope of snow, where Nick (our Field Training Officer) instructed us on how to ascend and descend the steep slopes.

Nick (FTO) shows us how to go up and down a steep bank of snow

We then walked to the west towards Lake Druzhby, along the gentle downward slope of another broad bank of snow.

Heading west towards Lake Druzhby
Looking east up the gentle slope of the bank of snow
The valley narrowed and we had to negotiate our way across this rocky field

The valley became very narrow and we had to skirt around a small melt lake. To continue on we had to clamber over a field of rocks.

Kerryn, who was ahead of me, managed to lose her footing on a wobbly rock. Her natural reaction was to break her fall by putting her hand out. Her left hand landed on the sharp edge of one of the large rocks. When I arrived to where she was sitting I noticed quite a lot of blood. She had a big gash on the palm of her left hand.

We got out the first aid kit and proceeded to stem the bleeding then wrap her hand in a bandage. The decision was made that she would need proper medical attention. Nick radioed VLZ and a helicopter was sent out to retrieve Kerryn.

It was also decided that we would all go back to Davis.

Kerryn relaxing on the rocks, after first aid was applied to her injured hand

Nick went about 200m further to the west and found a suitable place for the incoming helicopter to land

This is the site Nick selected for the helicopter landing pad

15 minutes later we were ready and waiting at the landing site. We didn’t have to wait long, before we heard then saw the helicopter approaching from the Northwest.

More Lenticular cloud provides a spectacular backdrop as the helicopter approaches from the Northwest

The following short video is of Nick guiding the helicopter (Uniform Uniform Hotel) to our position on the snow. (best viewed in high definition)

Within minutes we were all aboard the helicopter, then airborne and on our way back to station.

Our route to the station took us directly over Lake Druzhby. This fresh water lake was named during a 1956 Soviet Antarctic Expedition. It is fed by the melt water of the Ice Plateau and flows into Elis Fjord.

The following is a short video of the take off then flight over Lake Druzhby (best viewed in high definition)

Uniform Uniform Hotel tracks over Lake Druzhby towards Davis Station in the west
Flying back to Davis with Chris onboard Uniform Uniform Hotel
Following Dingle Road to VLZ Davis
Arriving back at Davis Station

We arrived back at station at 4:30pm. Kerryn and I went straight to the medical unit. Dr Ralph cleaned up the wound then inserted 6 stitches.

Being back on station meant that we could enjoy a nice hot meal.

At 6:45pm Rob, Nick and I made our way back to the helihut. We would fly out to Watts Lake Hut to complete our training. Unfortunately Kerryn couldn’t join us.

Next… The 3rd part of our Field Training: Travel

Please share and feel free to leave a comment.

One thought on “Field Training: Travel Part 2 – Walk to Watts

  1. Great pictures of some magnificent scenery. I also enjoyed the videos from the helicopter and of the helicopter landing. Such an amazing place to be.


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