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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1972-73: VUWAE 17


page 16


After several false starts, Allis, Blackwood, Crump and Hunt left Scott Base on November 22. The three helicopters were unable to land at Shapeless because of low cloud and the party were left, with field gear, at Vanda Station. The next four days were (pleasantly) spent on stand-by waiting for visibility to improve and wind to drop. On Monday 27 three helicopters made a total of four flights to Shapeless carrying, as well as the VUWAE team, the D.S.I.R. team of Lowery and Lefever who planned to work in the same area for the next six weeks. Camp was set up in high winds and heavy drift, these having prevented the scheduled aerial reconnaissance over Shapeless Mountain and Mistake Peak.

Bad weather forced the party to spend a total of 18 days in tents, while a further 5 or 6 possible working days were lost due to the unusually heavy snow cover. While Blackwood and Crump sampled and mapped the Mawson - a volcanic breccia overlying Beacon sediments - Hunt and Allis worked together to obtain drill core samples from this same formation. Work was usually closely co-ordinated and best use made of the one toboggan available. Allis also took magnetic and gravity readings in the area.

Initial problems with operating the drill in such cold conditions - mainly freezing of valves and hose - were overcome, and both geophysical projects were completed by December 27. Hunt and Allis then arranged for their transport to Lake Vanda where they were to spend several weeks measuring the pattern and velocity of the lake currents. Pick-up was delayed by poor weather at McMurdo, and Hunt and Allis finally left by helicopter on December 29.

On January 5 Lowery and Lefever set off on a toboggan traverse to Mt. Fleming. Crump and Blackwood remained at Shapeless to continue geological work, but were hampered during the next two days by petrol blockages in the toboggan. As the Fleming party were also having problems with their toboggan, the Scott Base engineer was flown by helicopter to Mt. Fleming and Shapeless Mountain on January 7. Both toboggans were soon back in working order.

High winds and snow prevented any more work until January 11, scheduled flying-out day, which was perfect weather at Shapeless. Poor visibility at McMurdo delayed pick-up and constant radio scheds made only very local work possible, Lowery and Lefever arrived back at Shapeless in the late afternoon of January 11, and requested transport to Vanda as soon as possible. The next day, in heavy drift and wind gusting to 40 knots, one helicopter ferried all four people, two toboggans, and most of the gear down to Vanda Station, After about 5 hours of non-stop work by the helicopter crew, Crump and Blackwood were flown back to Scott Base.

Division of Time

Spent on geology 26 days
Lost due to bad weather and awaiting aircraft 22 days
Lost due to toboggan beeakdown 1 days
Spent on airshifts 2 days
Spent at Scott Base 5 days
56 days