This week at the station

This week at Mawson: 18 October 2013

Caning on the plateau

One of the great joys of working in Antarctica is the variety of projects it is possible to get involved with, many of which are unique to living in such a harsh environment. Each day brings new challenges and adventures.

Maintaining the cane lines connecting the station to field huts on the plateau is one such project which is undertaken every year. Bamboo canes, up to 6metres long, are placed at 500-1000m intervals to mark safe travel routes. Navigation these days is mainly by GPS, making it possible to keep moving and stay on route even in poor visibility conditions. However, it is always reassuring to see a cane come into view to confirm that you are in fact heading in the right direction!

Bamboo canes are very strong but the winter storms and summer melt take their toll. The cane lines to Henderson, Rumdoodle, Fang and further south to the Central and Southern Massons all need maintaining.

After preparing the canes and loading them into the Hagglunds trailer, along with the ice drill and generator, we waited for a fine weather opportunity to venture up onto the plateau. After a week of blizzard conditions, last Sunday was fine and Cookie, Keldyn and John managed to complete the Fang line as far as F10. This is a significant waypoint as the route turns more to the south to avoid large crevasses.

Unfortunately our Hagglunds developed a problem near F10 and we had to abort a planned visit to Fang hut and a possible ascent of Fang Peak. We turned for home, happy to have spent Sunday, our day of rest, productively.

A few more days are required to complete all the lines but it is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying job, which makes field travel at Mawson safer for everyone.

On the Mawson plateau checking the cane lines bedded into the ice
Cookie and John; David Range in the background
(Photo: Keldyn Francis)
The tray of a ute filled with canes and a veiw of the cnae line in th distance
The important turn on the Fang route at F10, miss this and…
(Photo: John Burgess)
Two expeditioners inspecting a crevasse on Fang route
A crevasse near F10 on the Fang route
(Photo: John Burgess)
Hagglunds and trailer on plateau
Hagglunds with trailer on the plateau
(Photo: John Burgess)
The hole being drilled and a cane inserted, water is added to set the cane in place
After drilling the hole and inserting a cane, water is added to…
(Photo: John Burgess)
Keldyn drills while Cookie offers advice
Keldyn drills while Cookie offers advice
(Photo: John Burgess)

Cakes with character

Cakes and confusion...

One that never happened, one that was celebrated twice, one that on reflection represented two, another that was celebrated by two stations. One that happened to me and a few that included a dragon, a surfboard and space invaders. Birthdays and the associated cakes keep my hands sweet with sugar and the minds of the crew guessing. As mentioned previously, my love for creating unique and personalised birthday cakes has allowed the skills as a hobby decorator to flourish.

Stuck on this frozen continent for an extended period of time with truly talented people from all walks of life keeps me inspired to give of my time and fuels a desire to experiment and try new things regardless of success or not. The Doc even got on board and spent many hours playing with different coloured icings, all so as to make a cake he felt worthy of offering up for my birthday. Thanks a lot Lloyd, your thoughtfulness and labours made my day.

Chef Justin

Cake in the shape of a camera
Keldyn the photographer with his new camera cake.
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Daz stands behnd his Space Invader cake
Daz with his Daz Invader cake
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Man sits between his wooden wall plaque and the cake that is decorated to look exactly the same
Pete thought that someone had pulled the Mawson 2013 plaque that he…
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Cake is decorated with the colours, shields and dragon of Cliff's favorite football team.
Dragons and shields in psychodelic colours to match Cliffs personality
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
A silver drum with chocolate and bread that look like spare parts
Geoff with spare parts galore and the 10 Commandments according to diesos
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Cake with yellow icing and green palm trees
A beach scene from Justin's cake remind him of home
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Surfer on cake
Surfer J needs some of that Noosa sunshine on that lily white…
(Photo: Justin Chambers)