Travel Training

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Last week I went out into the Vestfolds for another four days of travel training with one of our FTOs. The purpose of the trip was to learn more navigation skills and other leadership skills required to be involved in the running of field trips. After this training we would be eligible for Trip Leader status once we had logged a few more walks. Most of us won’t get out much for the remainder of the season but the training certification lasts for three years so it gives us a head start for the next season we’re here. I think the best way to explain the trip is to write up the accounts that I put into the hut logbooks. In the end we hiked 55km and we were all relatively fit and well when we arrived home. A hugely impressive effort by us all and we had a great time doing it. I wrote an article for Icy News as well, where you can see a few more photos of the trip.

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20/01/14 (Watts Hut)
The intrepid travel training crew of Matt, Alison and ‘Tracy’ (Tina and Stacy), led by our fearless FTO Billy, made our way through the endless Vestfold Hills from Davis. We climbed to the dizzying heights of Starbucks (Tarbuck Crag) and were disappointed to find they had run out of lattes. With the sea ice melting we decided to take the scenic route around the back of the hills. Our trail was diverted by impassable blizz tails, which led us to lakes with lost throw bags and impossibly green rocks. We were forced to cross a large blizz to get to the shore and with almost wet feet we made our way to the rapids. Our path was again blocked by a large rock that miraculously turned itself into a seal as we approached, inviting a few squeals of wonder. The gatekeeper skuas tried to thwart our efforts to reach the rapids but with walking poles as our swords we prevailed. We stopped at the bridge for many a gratuitous selfie and stormed into Watts triumphantly just in time for skeds. We filled our bellies with hot tea, soup, pasta and stew and settled in for a warm night of chats and well earnt sleep.

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21/01/14 (Marine Plain Apples)
Our intrepid travel training group consisting of Matt, Alison, and ‘Tracy’ (Tina and Stacy), with our fearless FTO Billy, made our way from Watts Hut this morning. We tested our climbing skills traversing around a large blizz at Anderson Lake and skipped across the rocks to avoid our shoes being taken by the wet, silty sand. We followed the corridor to Marine Plain Apples, being sure to stay away from the ASPA* electric fence. We offloaded some extra gear at the Apples and enjoyed some lunch and one of Chris’ famous MTBs (milk tea bags). The afternoon took us south west to the Mule Peninsula, down to Lake McCallum. Along the way we stumbled across a large piece of metal at a lake we have now christened ‘Space Junk Lake’ (855, 803). We vowed to pick it up on our return trip and climbed the hill to the north of Lake McCallum. We ate some snacks and enjoyed the incredible view, including the giant Sorsdal iceberg (2.36km long), and then climbed a neighbouring hill to investigate an intriguing box at its peak. We returned the way we came to Marine Plain and enjoyed a delicious meal of mushroom pasta and cocoa flavoured pudding.

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22/01/14 (Watts Hut)
The Vestfold Hills Peak Bagging Club, formerly known as the intrepid travel training crew and otherwise known as ‘four babes and a protein shake’, made our way from Marine Plain Apples to Watts via the high road over spot point 62. We snuck around the back of the blizz at Anderson Lake and got caught on the high side of Watts Lake with a bit of a tricky descent down to the lake. After gorging ourselves on biscuits, cheese, pickles and most of a box of Cheds for lunch we offloaded some extra weight from our packs and went for a trudge down south to see what we could find. We saw Lake Nicholson, Lebed’ Lake and Oblong Lake, along with a dozen other unnamed lakes while walking to the top of every peak we could possibly find along the way. We sauntered up to the peak of spot point 115 and while the girls used the satellite phone to annoy VLZ Jane, Matt took a well earnt nap in the sun. We skirted point 104 in favour of a glimpse of the infamous Rubber Ducky Lake. Not ones to walk around anything, a few peaks later we arrived back at Watts, 4.5hrs after we decided to go for a leisurely 3hr walk. Matt vowed never to walk with us again, not realising we haven’t yet reached our final destination. After cups of tea, soup and mee goring noodles we lit a candle and Matt made us risotto for dinner and then retired to the parlour to browse some of the quality reading material found here. The girls talked about ‘girl’ things until we scared Billy out into her bivvy and retired to bed hoping for a good sleep before our final push for Davis tomorrow.

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23/10/14 (Watts Hut)
We’re 43km into our trek and showing general signs of wear and tear. After a cracker of a nights sleep we are ready to power home. Our current plan of attack is to head around the back of the hills to avoid the nasty blizz and attempt to avoid any high spots as we barrel past Tarbuck Crag and through the Portals to Heidemann Valley, where we expect our Maxi Taxi to be awaiting our arrival on Dingle Road. We all expect our request for access to the spa will be promptly allowed and catered for.

For the rest of our epic tale we encourage you to travel to Marine Plain Apples. If you could pick up our CO meter while you are there we would greatly appreciate it.

Signed: the intrepid travel training crew, aka ‘four beauties and a beast’.

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* Antarctic Specially Protected Area. A region in Antarctic which you are not allowed to enter without appropriate approvals and permits.

** For heaps more photos of this trip have a look at my Facebook album: Travel Training

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