What’s on the radio at Mawson station? The slushy, or kitchen assistant, decides and the picks may surprise you. Amateur climbers ascend Rumdoodle as part of training and are treated to spectacular views.

Slushy play list

A feature of life on Australian Antarctic Stations is the music piped though all the buildings via the station radio. This music is generally chosen by the daily “slushy” or kitchen helper and is the cause of much lively discussion, debate and derision.

This year at Mawson has been a relatively good one music wise and most of our inhabitants have played a great selection of tunes to set the mood at worksites and in the dining room.

It can be interesting to find out what sort of music appeals to different people, Diesos, for example, seem to love Country music and top 40 Britpop while hardened experienced plumbers have a love for big ballad love songs .. hello Mariah Carey! … Who would have guessed?

However there are those whose music suits them to a T .. Meteorological observers and “Frontier Psychiatrist” for example or Female Medicos and “Rocky Horror picture show”

As the station Chef I have heard a wide variety of music this year, some good and some terrible but always interesting and failing that there is always earmuffs and Panadol.

The Slushy playlist of the year went to Peter Layt who seemed to know that Chefs in general are always singing the blues.

The ascent of Rumdoodle

On 6 December 2015 a team of five intrepid explorers left the safety and comfort of Mawson station to push their limits climbing to the summit of a mountain straight out of legend: Rumdoodle Peak.

Alright, I might need to back up a bit. The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a novel by WE Bowman that parodies real mountaineering records, and describes the first ever summitting of the worlds (fictional) tallest mountain, Rum Doodle. The name of Bowman’s fictional peak has since been adopted by a number of mountains and ridges around the world, including our very own Rumdoodle in the North Masson Range. Our Rumdoodle is admittedly a bit of a “baby brother” to the fictitious peak: 2871 feet above sea level as compared to 40000.5 feet. However, with four mountaineering novices in our group, it was still quite an experience.

The Rumdoodle ascent is a steep scree slope scramble from 460 metres above sea level to ~790 m above sea level, which is exhausting to say the least. Once at the top of the scree the team “ropes up” to complete the next ~80 vertical metres to the summit. Our plan was to climb the peak in teams of three — two novices with the field training officer (FTO) for each ascent — so the two non-climbers stayed at the bottom of the range and explored the local area while we set off.

Once the climbing crew reached the cliff face and I took a moment (several moments) to catch my breath we roped up and began the first pitch: 30 m of steep slab. Our FTO, John Burgess, does a traditional lead climb, which involves pulling a belay line up behind him and placing rock anchors as he progresses. Once he reaches the top of the pitch, he anchors to the ledge and belays the novices as we climb.

After reaching the top of the first pitch there is a ten metre sideways ledge, followed by another ~30 m of steep slab. All in all it is a technically easy mountain to summit, but when you throw in all the Antarctic gear, cold fingers, and what was once a crippling fear of heights, it definitely felt like a major achievement to reach the top. The rewards are threefold too: satisfaction in overcoming mental barriers caused by being in high places, satisfaction in doing something physically challenging with your body, and the spectacular views from the top of the world.

All in all, I think it is an experience that we won’t quickly forget.