Another exhilarating field trip, a cruel blizzard at Beche, the birthday of the week, water in the harbour and a delicious smoko treat.

Another best yet…

Mt Elliot just wasn’t ready for us in August. A combination of short daylight hours and bad conditions thwarted our earlier attempt to get to the summit. Mt Elliot 1 — Climbers 0!

So here we are on January 1, full of festive fare, 24 hours of daylight and exceptionally good weather.

“I have a cunning plan”… Dave gave me a wry look but listened anyway. Taking advantage of the calm conditions we could try the normally very windy east face via the big scree slopes. “It should be less complex but maybe a wee bit tedious.” It was monotonous. Imagine going up the down escalator ankle deep in rocks for an age and you will get the picture. It was lots of effort for little progress on the scree, but when we reached the ridge it was all interest and fun. We were stoked with the great views, nice scrambling and interesting ridge walking. We did have the occasional backtrack and detour but we eventually reached the fantastic summit pinnacle on the ridge. Just like so many other Antarctic experiences it was totally awesome. Soak up the magic, the vastness, the infinite vistas, the brilliant beauty.

“Wow! Dave it’s another best yet”.

“It is indeed Tom, it is indeed”.

Tom Meldrum

Penguin Ponderings and Scandalous Skuas — 11th Jan

Penguin Ponderings

A big blizzard swept though the Mawson area last week and took its toll on the Bechervaise Island Adelie colony. Winds reached 81knots (145km/hr) and a large dump of snow covered the majority of nests. Chicks were still fairly young at the time and many perished during the storm. Afterwards, the snow quickly melted, but left the area very wet and the wind picked up again. Many chicks who survived the initial blizzard died soon afterwards, probably from exposure. There are very few nests now with two chicks. Of the four nests monitored here, both chicks at Nest B died and one at each of A and C died during or soon after the blizzard. At nest D, both chicks survived the blizzard, with one happily using the snow as a stool to reach its parent, but one died within a few days. Another blizzard is roaring outside as I write this and is likely to cause even more mortalities in the colony.

Adult foraging trips have reduced from the mammoth trips during incubation to localised trips around neighbouring islands as more holes form in the sea ice.

A new species was found this week, commonly known as the pooguin. This species is found nesting below popular penguin hangouts.

Scandalous Skuas

The blizzard took its toll on one skua nest, with the chick no longer seen, however the other nests now have chicks. With so many penguin carcasses to choose from, skuas seem to be selective in which meal takes their fancy.

Julie McInnes

The birthday of the week

Last Sunday was Fearless’s birthday, but through his unrelenting and interminable hints and reminders, mostly non-subtle, he enjoined the whole station to celebrate this fact for the entire week leading up to Sunday. As such, his is by far the most noted and celebrated birthday of the year at Mawson, an achievement he no doubt can feel justly proud of.

Saturday night’s dinner was the major event of this week of celebration and was another of Scott’s outstanding meals. Just in case any of us had missed out on the fact that it was his birthday, Fearless donned a suitably themed hat for the night.

The dessert course was the birthday cake; a baked pumpkin cheese cake with chocolate and peanut butter. A beautiful dessert to end the meal, though several were forced to admit defeat before they finished. However, and perhaps as the ultimate indicator of how good it was, most resorted to wrapping the remainder in cling wrap, putting their name on it and storing it in the fridge for later on.

Most finished Sunday night (remember, Sunday was his birthday) with the optimistic hope that the celebrations were now over, but this was not to be. We are now at mid-week and anticipating two more birthdays this weekend, but Fearless continues to remind us it was his birthday last week and of how many days now remain until his next one.

Ian Phillips

The adventure is almost over

Six weeks to ship, nine weeks to Hobart (at least, that’s Plan “A”…)

We can now see the edge of the fast ice from several vantage points around station, estimated to be about 12km away. The sea ice is dark and visibly thinning in Horseshoe Harbour, with yesterday’s blizzard having opened a hole about the size of a large swimming pool. These changes bring us to thoughts of home, and of the rapidly approaching prospect of a ship in the harbour.

For myself, I’m ready to come home. I have enjoyed the year. There have been adventures and experiences shared with my colleagues, and challenges — both professional and personal. There is work still to do, finishing the various projects, writing reports, and sending things home. The observations task doesn’t stop for us Met Monks until we get off the ship in Hobart, but the end is in sight, and I miss my family and friends.

We have had an incredible adventure, and will want to share it. Loved ones have had a year’s worth of life’s adventures at home, and we will want to share that too. It will take a little while for us to re-adjust to the real-world; things like shops, money, traffic, locking doors, crowds, animals, plants. We have missed your company, and will want to spend time with you, just because we can.

Rolf Freeman

Masterchef in the kitchen again…

Hot on the heels of her overwhelming success in Mawson Masterchef, it was time for Lisa to display her fine culinary skills once again. This time it was a super smoko for the boys — cheesy-mite scrolls. A sumptuous combination of bread, cheese and vegemite all rolled up together to form one delicious treat. There were a few rookie mistakes made along the way, such as making them (all 20) individually instead of one roll that was cut up. But the pure joy of eating the scroll meant that it was forgiveness all round. Yum Yum…

Lisa O'Connor