This week at Mawson: 14 December 2018

Making time for work, training and jollies

SAR training

This week saw the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) team take time out of our busy work schedules to head to the plateau for a day to practice their skills. The team loaded up two Haggs with a mountain of rope and equipment and drove to a small ice cliff near Mt Henderson. It was certainly a step up from the small blizz tail on station where we had our last training exercise!

The team began by building anchors in the blue ice using both ice screws and v-threads.​ A v-thread is made by drilling two angled holes in the ice that intersect and can be threaded with a piece of climbing tape to provide a strong anchor. The v-threads gave Mal a chance to show off his carpentry skills. 

Mal and Nate then set up the lowering and hauling system, and Matt took charge of the belay. Both Brilly and Pat took turns as the attendant, being lowered down the cliff and then hauled back up. It was decided to leave the stretcher in the Hagg as it was a bit too windy, but there was plenty of good learning and practice regardless. 

Before long everyone was working confidently and efficiently, and whilst we hope we won't need to call on the SAR team, it's good to know that we're capable and practised if we do.

Mark Savage, SFTO

A SAR team training session up on the plateau
The SAR team going over the edge at End Wave
(Photo: Patrick James)
2 men build a rope rescue system
Nate and Mal building the main line system
(Photo: Mark Savage)
A man checks a rope rescue system
Nate making those cold fingers work
(Photo: Mark Savage)
A group of people ready to use their technical rope system
Main line and belay systems set up and ready to go.
(Photo: Mark Savage)
One man over a cliff on a rope while another watches
Pat goes over the edge with Brilly working the edge from the…
(Photo: Mark Savage)
A man is held by the rope system over the edge
No Hands! The system works for Pat.
(Photo: Mark Savage)

Heading up the hill

Spend a lazy Sunday on station, or go exploring in the mountains?

The intrepid nine-lad quad party (Mal, Marcus, Nate, Nick, Pat, Pete, Phil, Tom, and Trent) obviously chose the latter, aiming their trusty steeds toward the isolated South Masson range.

Some 30 km later, lunch or breakfast (depending on who you were) was enjoyed under the impressive stepped features of Mt Burnett, named after 1958 expedition radiophysicist E. Burnett.

Hiking and photos followed before riding activities resumed. Heading for Sonic Lake, the route passed a very lost, mummified Weddell seal.

At Sonic Lake, the benefits of bringing along a bird scientist became evident as Marcus enlightened all on the Snow Petrel's habit of spitting krill oil as a defence mechanism.

In conclusion, a great day in the hills enjoyed by all. 

Patrick James 

A group out on quad bike on the ice plateau
Quad biking out by the mountains
(Photo: Patrick James)
A group walking on the ice plateau
Perfect day for a walk
(Photo: Patrick James)
Mummified seal remains
It doesn't end well for a lost seal...
(Photo: Patrick James)