This week at Mawson we went on survival training, took time to take in the view and observed the Adélie penguins on the surrounding islands.

Survival training

Last Friday saw seven of us — that’s six to be trained (Brad, Jason, Ben, Clinton, Danny and Ali) and one trainer (Heidi) — head up onto the plateau for our survival training.

The weather had been blowing persistently all day, but didn’t appear to be getting any worse. So after going through the procedures to leave station properly, we hopped onto the quad bikes laden with everything required and left late in the afternoon — just as the fire alarm sounded. We ensured that the station was not in any danger before heading up via the steep climb known as Gwamm to the ice plateau and beyond.

Once up on the plateau we felt the full force of the wind that was screaming down the plateau towards the coast. This was the first real test of our ability to clothe ourselves properly. Outer wind proof and warm inner layers being the only thing between us and the Antarctic temperatures, which are lowered even more by the wind.

Once within the shelter of Rumdoodle Hut we prepared dehydrated meals for tea and warmed up before a restful night’s sleep… The wind howled, the snow petrels chirped and the bivvies rustled like chip packets but those of us outdoors for the night were oblivious after the day’s efforts.

Turbine with a view

The wind turbines require maintenance at times, which means climbing up to the top. Certainly the best view on station!

Offshore update

A recent trip out to the islands involved measuring the sea ice thickness — in some places the colour has changed drastically indicating it is thinning fast.

Luckily there is still solid sea ice which allows station personnel to get onto the islands and observe the many Adélie penguin colonies there.