There is small area around Davis Station that you are free to explore in your own time but if you want to go further afield then you have to complete survival training. To operate outside the station limits you are required to take equipment that will enable you to survive should your activities not go to plan. While living within the comforts of the station it can be easy to forget that you are living in Antarctica and conditions can quickly change. Survival training equips you with the basic knowledge needed to operate in such an environment. As Hannes and I had been flying out to the glacier each day, accompanied by two field training officers we hadn’t completed our survival training. Once most of the equipment was out and we had a lull in the fieldwork schedule we were keen to get out and explore. Most other people had already completed our training so it was only Hannes and I that headed out to Brookes Hut with Ian Whitley, our field training officer. The exercise is set up so that you fly out to the hut in the afternoon, do some basic safety and navigation training, bivi out over night and then navigate your way back to the station the following day.
We had heard some less than pleasant stories about people getting little sleep out in the snow with the large yellow bivi bags, not so affectionately termed crisp packets because of the noise they make in the wind. We were very lucky by contrast, most of the snow was gone, the wind was light and the evening very pleasant. The low point may have been the food…. I think my particular freeze dried delicacy went out of date in 2011, although it did seem to be more appetising than Hannes’ Beef and green beans that looked distinctly like it had already been digested…Luckily I’d stocked up on my favourite jelly sweets so we didn’t starve!
The following day we walked back to station through the Vestfold Hills past a number of blue sparkling lakes. It was a treat to be out away from the station and to explore more of the local area, we’d flown over it many times but this was the fist time we’d walked there. It is strange though, when you’re in the valleys and can’t see beyond the hill tops you could be in any number of different locations, particularly in such mild weather.