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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1970-71: VUWAE 15


page 13


On December 17th a four-man party consisting of Curreen, DSIR field leader and party leader, Grapes, scientific leader, McPherson and Reid were flown by helicopter to Allan Hills. A camp was established on the northwest arm and the following day was spent on local geology. For the next three days the party was tent-bound by high winds. From December 21st to 23rd the geology on the north-east arm and at the head of the bay of Allan Hills was examined. Next day a welcome Hercules dropped Christmas mail for the party. Christmas day was celebrated in a tent specially enlarged to allow standing room by digging a pit in the floor.

On December 27th the party man-hauled to Battlements Nunatak, a distance of approximately 14 miles from the base camp. The weather was clear and calm, and surface conditions were remarkably smooth and hard, enabling a speed of approximately 2 1/2 miles an hour to be maintained. To reduce weight on the sledge the party had decided to take only the Mead tents as an emergency precaution and to build ice caves in which to live whilst at Battlements Nunatak. Unfortunately the snow at Battlement was very hard and the digging of ice caves was a long and arduous process taking about 10 hours. Despite the dripping walls and confined space they were nevertheless quite livable for the two night period. One full day completed the geology of Battlements Nunatak, and on the 29th December the party man-hauled back to the Allan Hills camp.

White out conditions delayed the party until the 1st January 1971, when they man-hauled approximately 22 miles to Coombs Hills. Extensive wind scouring of the ice and snow around the north-east limb of Allan Hills forced the party to make a detour of approximately 12 miles, much of this through a heavily crevassed area. The last 4 miles of the journey was up a gentle slope, and this coupled with a 5 inch fresh snow cover on the surface made going very difficult. The total time for the haul was 10 hours. Camp was set up in a bay in the north-west corner of Coombs Hills.

The following days were spent carrying out geological mapping and sampling of the northern, central and southern areas of Coombs Hills and it was found that sections measured in this area correlated well with those at Allan Hills.

On the morning of the 6th January the party returned to Scott Base in two U.S. Navy helicopters.