International Polar Foundation - © International Polar Foundation

in News

My First Antarctic Experience under Bright Blue Skies

Wednesday November 18th - We have been at Utsteinen for six days now. While not a very original topic for discussion, it's impossible for me not to talk about the weather. It's gorgeous. The days (and nights, if anybody can tell the difference) are sunny and cloudless with hardly any wind. I'm almost be disappointed...I hadn't imagined my first trip to Antarctica would be like this!! But I won't have long to wait for the weather to change; there's a storm forecasted for Friday.

Nobody has been slacking off since our arrival. The station and its surroundings have already been transformed; immense quantities of snow have been moved, the mess tent has been dug out. It's as if we were by the sea and the tide has gone out. Today, the tents have been set up at the base camp and we'll soon be able to start thinking about moving out of the station. For the time being, we're comfortably settled inside the building. However since we have to finish the inside of the station, we'll eventually have to leave.

Reinforcements are arriving tomorrow. Our team will become stronger and I'll have to revise the food rations! I'm the one in charge of keeping our hungry group well-fed, and trust me, with their long working days and short nights of rest in the polar cold, hungry they are. Meals are not to be taken lightly...

We have neighbours as well (that's another thing I'd never have suspected in Antarctica). A Japanese expedition has set up its base camp near the station. We've invited them to our table for two days. Also in the neighborhoods is a colony of snow petrels nesting in the rocks at Utsteinen, which I went to visit this afternoon. The presence of these beautiful white birds is as extraordinary as it is reassuring. What is it that drives these fragile birds to colonize these desolate surroundings? I suppose nature hates emptiness... I was lost in thought thinking these gracious birds when all of a sudden a skua showed up, and there was one less petrel. It looks like life is not always easy here either. I turned around and went back to my pots and pans...

Christine Mattel

Author: IPF

Picture: International Polar Foundation - © 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.