Departure Day +7

In 7 days my Heard Island adventure will become a reality!

The first leg of the trip is comparatively easy –  I just need to board a Virgin Australia flight heading west to Perth and eventually through to Cape Town where I’ll join an advance group from the Expedition Team.  This will provide me a chance to catch up on some overdue sleep!

For me it’s been 18 months since I signed on to this expedition, for others this has been a 5 year project and now we are at the sharp end, this is where planning and logistics lose out to real ADVENTURE !!

The past 12 months have been all about-

Risk Management Planning – how do you assess the risk of being on one of the most remote islands in the world?

Scientific projects for non-scientists. How do I as an accountant and project manager fit into an extensive programme of environmental science? Collecting specimens on Heard Island is no easy task, it rains, more than a lot, and the winds will regularly exceed 100 kmph.   Preparing equipment and projects that can be completed in these conditions is a HUGE challenge and one I looking forward to.

 2016-03-01 20.04.37Obtaining permits to land on the island has been a big piece of work that I’ve only been involved in at the fringe.  Heard Island is a territory of Australia and administered by the Australia Antarctica Division (AAD). They control the fine line between “approved access” and “no access”,  and as frustrating as it’s been it’s a relief to know that Heard Island is so well monitored.   (that’s a blog post in itself and is a few days away).

HI_Equipment-1030726Locating equipment. I expected that having already been involved in some high altitude alpine climbing I would be well equipped. But NO!!!    AAD permit conditions required new outer layer clothing to prevent seeds slipping into Heard Island via pockets and unknown crevices of boots, clothing and packs.   Thanks to Kathmandu for assisting with new clothing – it’s really appreciated!

Purchasing a drone to get to those hard to access areas of the island. And here it’s thanks to the team at SwellPro for providing a waterproof splash drone. My pilot skills are “basic” at best and I can foresee a number of water landings being achieved on the island.

Coordinating an Island to School Outreach Programme
With 2 NZ schools, Wellesley College (Wellington) and Merrilands School (New Plymouth) working with me I have the opportunity to engage with 2 classroom groups on different aspects of the Heard Island experience.   One class has tasked me to provide information from Heard Island about Penguins and the other is interested in the Plastic Debris survey that we are undertaking.

And to make it REAL we are arranging an “Island to Classroom” phone call.

So with 7 days to go what’s left for me to achieve –

  • Preparing a replacement Will – a sobering thought and it should be a simple task but it never seems to get to the top of the list!
  • Put the final touches on plans for getting photos and blog stories back to the outside world
  • Obtain the necessary medications to keep me safe from from sea sickness to any type of infection I’m likely to encounter.
  • Complete the gear cleaning and finish packing

So with 7 days to go the pressure is on the close out the “To Do List” and be at Sydney International airport at 5.30pm on Friday.  It’s going to happen!!

 

Gavin

Climate Change – Real or Imaginary?

Personally I believe I am the last person to be leading a discussion on climate change but let me put these two photo’s from Heard Island out there and you draw your own conclusions.

This photo is of the Vahsel Glacier and was taken in 1954

Vahsel Glacier 1954

 

This photo was taken from the same location in 2012.  The change in thickness of the glacier ice location of the terminal face is dramatic

Vahsel Glacier 2012

And in 3 weeks time I’ll be heading south to Herad Island to take photo’s from the same location to record the change over the past 4 years.

Gavin

 

(All photos supplied by Dr G Budd, Sydney  copyright)

 

“A” is for Adventure – right?

 

Well the “A” in my Heard Island adventure just got a little bigger!

Heard Island - screen grab #1

Heard Island from Offshore  (Photo source: Institute Of Marine and Antarctic Studies)

You are probably not aware but the “Investigator”, a CSIRO research vessel is currently in the Heard Island area and earlier in the week they reported vapour plumes from the summit of Mawson peak and lava flowing on the south western side of the peak.

Heard Island is once again active, and our expedition is due to land there in just 5 weeks.  There has already been a suggestion the field science team should be trying to recover a sample of the new lava that’s flowing down the mountain side!

To view the video from the team on the “Investigator” follow this link.

Heard Island - screen grab #2
Mawson Peak with vapour plumes disipating in the wind (Source Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies)

The Storm Is Clearing, at Last!

Slightly off the travel and outdoor adventure theme but last week’s trip to Newcastle on the NSW coastline did not run to the script.  I was all for some sun and walking on the beaches, sprinkled with an occasional cafe lunch and coffee.

In the end my wife and I managed to time our trip to coincide with 3 days of almost continual wind and rain, and the end result – flooded roads, lot’s of time in the cafes reading newspapers and many cups of coffee.

On day three just as we were leaving to head back to Sydney the sun crept through and we achieved one short walk along the rock wall beyond Nobbys Lighthouse.  The light was awesome and I managed some good photos as the storm clouds were clearing and the wind was whipping the sand of the beach.

Take a look….

 

 

 

 

Please FOLLOW my blog to stay in touch, there’s plenty of adventure just around the corner!

Thanks

Gavin

 

 

 

Snowy Mountains Gallery

To read my “Snowy Mountains for the New Year” blog post click the link or click on an image below to view these images from the six days I spent walking in Kosciusko National Park as a slide show.

 

Snowy Mountains for New Year

Snowy Mountains-0290 Day 2 started cold and misty, so misty that we delayed our departure from the “Schlink Hilton” in the hope that the wind, the sun, or maybe both would deal to the mist and give us some view of the terrain ahead of us.

By 9am we were underway and although the mist was dissipating  it was far from a clear start as we made our way up the ridge line to the north east of the hut.

(For those wondering about Day 1,  it was best forgotten!  A hard and unrewarding uphill road bash / slog in torrential rain [well that’s how I remember it] from the car park at Guthega Dam,  Not quite what I’d hoped for as my first day carrying a heavy pack for quite some time .

Snowy Mountains-0392I wanted to use this 6 day walk in the Snowy Mountains as a means to assess my fitness for the up coming Heard Island trip. The 25 kilo’s (approx.) on my back was making sure I knew exactly where all the pressure points from my pack harness were and exactly how strong (or not) my legs were feeling.

As so for day 2 those pressure points were still obvious, but slightly dulled from the day before. The day’s objective was to drop in at Mawson’s hut, descend down to the Valentine Creek at Big Bend and then finish the day approx. 1 kilometre to the north of the Geehi river with a view, north to Mt Jugungal and south to Cup & Saucer and Mailbox hills.  By mid afternoon we were at the camp site and kicking back for an easy afternoon.

Mt Jungunal could be seen on the sky line to the north west, it looked distant but in reality it was only 3km away.

At the top of Jugungal
Looking South from the the summit of Mt Jugungal
Snowy Mountains-0487
Tarn at Tarn Bluff. A reliable water supply by the looks of it.

An early (8.15am) start on day 3 had us heading to the top of Mt Jugungal, Our packs were light and the height to the summit gained relatively painlessly. and then by midday we were back in camp, packing down tents, reloading packs and preparing for the short trek through to Tarn Bluff where we would camp overnight.  Our walk back to Tarn Bluff was a comparatively short 4 km’s and the terrain was magic.  Rolling alpine meadow is the best way to describe it.  By mid afternoon we were at camp and tents pitched for the night stay.

Snowy Mountains-0577
Sun setting on Tarn Bluff camp site

Tarn bluff provided  us a camp site with a reliable water supply and a great view at the close of the day as the sun set and the colours of the grasses and sky were continually changing.

Snowy Mountains-0511Day 4, and immediately on leaving camp we were heading higher, nothing excessive mind you but enough to get the heart pumping.  We were on our way to Tin Hut located  approximately 9-10km’s to the south.  It was great walk.    Once again we crossed Snowy Mountains-0667Valentine Creek at Big Bend but this time we stayed down near the creek for the most part, only climbing when it really was necessary to avoid the swampy ground that reached out to the spurs that ran down from Kerris Ridge.   The distance passed quite quickly, and it was just after midday as we arrived at Tin Hut where we made out next camp.   The early arrival provided us time to set up camp and then later in the afternoon make a dash out to Big Brassy Peak and back before sunset.

An awesome sun rise greeSnowy Mountains-0715ted me on day 5!  Mind you I had to make an early start to see it – 5:10am and the horizon was on fire with a bright glow through the gum trees.  I sat out on the large rock near the camp site and watched this sunrise for 30 minutes and then it was into the usual routine of heating water, breakfast, COFFEE and pack down my tent so as to make the day starting line at 8:00am.  Today the aim was to head south, past the Schlink Hilton hut and through to a camp site approx.  a kilometre north of the Granite Peaks.  It was one of the hottest days Snowy Mountains-0784of the trip and the final push up to 1900 metres was a hard one.  This camp site had 2 distinct disadvantages – flys and ants.  Where-ever you sat you seemed to be overcome by both.  It didn’t take to much encouragement to get me moving on the next morning toward Guthega trig.  This was a small hop – 6 km’s so a side trip up to Mt Tate was added in to make sure we didn’t feel shortchanged on the day!

From Mt Tate to looking north to Mt Jugungal in the distance.
From Mt Tate to looking north to Mt Jugungal in the distance.

From here we could sit and look north – content in knowing that Mt Jugungal 22 km’s to the north had been well within our capabilities!

All that was left to do on this trip was to celebrate the end of 2015 and the beginning to a New Year.  Both were down in fine style with an awesome sunset and an even more impressive sun rise the next morning before the last hour walk down to the cars at Guthega dam.

The first sunrise of 2016 from Guthega trig.
The first sunrise of 2016 from Guthega trig.

 

Thanks to Owen, Michelle, Sue, Srini and Sun for having me along for the trip!

Gavin


 

View the full gallery of photos from the Jugungal trip by clicking here.

Kathmandu – Thanks for your support!

KathmanduStore-18Thanks Kathmandu for supporting me on my Heard Island Adventure.  I’m excited to be a 2016 Summit Club Adventurer and looking forward to sharing my adventure with you.

In 3 months time I head deep into the Southern Ocean to one of the remotest locations in the world. I am one of very small field science team that will be on Heard Island collecting rocks for a geologist, counting plastic debris for the Tangaroa Blue, standing in cold glacier water to dredge for lagoon sediment, taking photos of the thousands of seals, albatross and penguins that inhabit the island and much more.

And just maybe I can find a previously unknown “something” that will be named after me?

On the 4 March I fly to Cape Town to prepare for departure, and the week long boat trip that is required to get us to Heard Island. Along the way we’ll engage in a bit of whale watching, drop some NOAA Drifter buoys overboard and generally prepare for what is going to genuinely be a once in a life time adventure.

LIKE my facebook page or register here on my blog page (click on the blue “follow TrackMyAdventures” button)to stay in touch with me as I complete my preparations and then set off for an extreme adventure in an extreme location!

Select the HEARD ISLAND EXPEDITION option from the menu bar above to get more information about the Heard Island Expedition.

 

Gavin Marshall

KathmanduStore-21

GoalZero – Portable Power

GoalZero-1030021I’m really pleased to have received confirmation today that once again the team from GoalZero Australia are supporting me as I prepare for another Extreme Adventure.

These guys have been with me now for just over 4 years as I’ve tackled various mountains of the 7 Summits, trekked in Australia and New Zealand and now they are coming along for the ride to Heard Island.

This next adventure is a little different.  We will be mobile around the island – bristling with electronics.  Digital and video camera’s, GPS units, and drones.  The batteries in all of these items will be “stressed” in the cold and as we make use of them they will require recharging – preferably without having to continually make our way back to base camp to top up from the generators.

That’s where the GoalZero equipment comes in.  Their high capacity rechargeable batteries will allow us to top up while we are out in the field and reduce the need to return to base camp.

Thanks to the team at GoalZero – I’m looking forward to keeping you updated with the Heard Island Expedition.

 

Gavin

 

 

 

ad-ven-ture (noun): unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity