Field trips around Mawson

Field trips around Mawson

Now that everybody has completed survival training it was time to get off station for some weekend jaunts. Incredibly the good weather has continued and we were keen to make the most of it.

Last weekend saw two Hägglunds rumble off to Phillips Ridge, a couple of hours south from Mawson. The ridge rises out of the plateau, slowly gaining height as it climbs southwards, and is crossed by different coloured bands of broken rock. The summit is surprisingly exposed and offers commanding views of the surrounding ranges and peaks jutting out of the ice plateau.

On Good Friday it was time to walk on water. The sea ice has been growing since early March and we did a test drill in Horseshoe Harbour a week ago. There is something unsettling about walking on frozen ocean; only six weeks ago the Aurora Australis was moored here. But now we have over half a metre of ice. Today we began measurements for the longstanding Heil project; a weekly recording of ice thickness and characteristics at four sites. We walked the nine kilometres, testing the ice thickness along the way. It was a perfect windless Mawson afternoon.

On Easter Sunday we woke to a blizzard. This made the hunt for Easter eggs a little more challenging for some. Thanks for the eggs, Easter Penguin! But the blowing snow soon eased and four eager souls departed for the Central Masson range and a walk to Patterned Lake. Time was spent exploring the incredible ice features and moraine deposits on the way to the lake. After watching Shane do some push ups on the frozen surface we climbed up rocky scree to a saddle. Sometimes it’s necessary to remind oneself not to take the views for granted. Everywhere we looked was gobsmackingly picturesque. If only I’d remembered to put the card back in my camera…Oh well, memory and other people’s photos will have to suffice.

Mark Savage — Field Training Officer, Mawson