Blog post is a little bit late for June for various reasons but here goes.
I was trying to sum up what Midwinter is all about but found this on the BAS website “On Tuesday June 21st, scientists and support staff based at research stations in Antarctica will celebrate Midwinter’s Day, the shortest day of the Austral Winter. In a tradition that goes back to the early days of exploration on the continent, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff will sit down to a festive meal and exchange gifts.
They will also listen to the BBC World Service’s annual Midwinter’s Day broadcast. This year’s programme is presented by Cerys Matthews of BBC Radio 6 Music and will include personal greetings to everyone working at BAS’ research stations. BAS has four stations which it operates over the winter months; Bird Island, Kind Edward Point, Rothera and Halley VI. There are a total of 46 staff wintering at those stations.”
Our midwinter celebrations ended up being moved back a week in order for us to get our runway ready for a Medivac from another station. It is pretty amazing how collaborative the various nations are in Antarctica and it was interesting to talk to the teams flying in. The final flight to the south pole was during midwinter itself, which had never been done before.
The last sun I saw. A couple of weeks before the Midwinter festivities and the Medivac Saz and I nipped out to climb a route on “Middle Stork” and managed to get to the summit in time for a couple of minutes of sunlight. All we get at Rothera right now is a couple of hours of dusky permanent sunset/riseReady for the Medivac. I am sure the pilots were reassured to hear that Rothera has a fire department. Al and I dressed for success next to the fire truck.Saz signalling one of the Twin Otters in with Base in the background. Note her homemade signaling devices (maglights with plastic wrapped around them!)The final plane took off quite late at night in some fairly wild conditions. Above – its pretty rare for us to see Twin Otters taking off at night but this was actually early afternoon I think.Rothera lit up at night. After the last plane had left Al, Tom and I went up the hill behind base to get some pictures of base lit up. The runway and the Hangar are not usually lighted up in the winter.
Checking out all the Midwinter gifts. At the start of winter we all pulled names out of a hat for someone to make a gift for. The various workshops around base got pretty busy (as did anyone with any crafty skills to share) in the last few weeks but culminated in some amazing gifts. Hours of midwinter day were taken up examining all the various gifts and asking how various things had been designed or made.Lewis working hard in the kitchen. It cant be denied that Lewis was the real hero of midwinter at Rothera. He’d been planning his menu since he first heard about the job and spent a lot of time in the build up prepping things for the day. The Eleven course midwinters meal. We had to start at 4pm just to fit all the courses in.Another tough day in AntarcticaAdam making some tough decisions at the cheeseboard.
Group photo in the Comms Tower as we listened to the midwinter broadcast, complete with Cerys Matthews singing Happy Birthday to a couple of the guys on base.
I was on “nights” just before Midwinter and had some time to edit some of the timelapse I’ve shot over the last couple of months.