Inside Core Systems - © International Polar Foundation

in News

Live from Antarctica: Friday February 27th

We have been "inside" for a week now, and as the long Antarctic night begins to close in around the Princess Elisabeth station, Rene is in ecstasy. He marvels at the colours and the light. For a hard-bitten professional photographer to admit to a passion for anything so kitsch as sunsets must be hard, but a green sky tinged with a rim of fire is hard to ignore. The colours of the fading light infuse everything in pinks and opalescent blues that tinge our beloved Vikinghogda with a play of light and colour that it is impossible to capture let alone describe. How can one do justice to these razor sharp crests that are inscribed into our brains with such a delicate line and form? How to describe the fluidity and the pitiless beauty of this place? It will continue to haunt us long after we have gone, carried away to that other World on wings of steel.

The station has become accustomed to us even as we try to become accustomed to her, her humming and gurgling vitals accompanying our long days. We marvel at every new delight, the singing washing machines, that warn us when our laundry (what a marvel) is done. And the hot water in the showers! So amazed are we that we actually put off using them. What about the water? "What if we run out of water?", we cry while we look for excuses for putting off how civilisation catches up with us, even out here where we have lived for so many cold months in the frigid and intimate embrace of Antarctica.

The weather is threatening to close in on us, shutting off the exit to Novo, but the wind has fallen and the wind turbines are silent in the dark, denying all rumours, all talk of the menacing clouds to the North. The Hammar perches outside like two giant cranes caught in a mating ritual, and the Prinoth sleeps lobster-like, its plough raised in a gesture of defiance. The snow scooters sit silent, like ducks on a darkened pond, heads under their wings. Overhead, the Southern Cross sparkles furiously to remind us, in case we might be caught unawares, that, here, the sun turns anti-clockwise in the sky.

Today Alain, the chief Prinaute, has had a long session of smoothing-out-the-landscape left pitted by our long occupation and by the movement of Prinoth and sledges taking containers to the blue ice. He has spent hours flattening the airstrip, despite the lack of contrast which fuses the sky and the Earth into one vast white canvas. It is a place to seek absolution, a place to wipe out memory. Today's earth shaping session has been typical and one from which sensitive souls should abstain, as it sometimes involves sharp descents and yawning chasms which cause the adrenalin to flow.

We have kept up the pace of work, trying to finish anything that could be finished, but time is running out and the packing of our bags still has to be done. We wander the station with inventory lists, caught in a reverie induced by everything that we find while we try to fathom what this strange object might be and who may have ordered it. A last minute spurt of cabling, another room installed and another circuit checked. But we have to face up to the inevitable. We have two nights to go before the long austral night closes in without anyone here to witness the passing of the light.

Nighat Amin

Author: IPF

Picture: Inside Core Systems - © International Polar Foundation

Press Officer

Journalists and other press members can get in touch with our press officer for pictures, interview requests or other material.