Windy bay weather station

My first excursion offbase was to service the automatic weather station at Windy Bay some 30 km west towards the coast. We set off in a snocat with our driver and a helper. About 1.5 h later we arrived at the site: a thin construction of poles and cables with a few sensors scattered along them almost abandoned in the white waste. The snow conditions are good and once all the servicing was done we dug out the tripod and poles lifting them above the snow so that they don’t get buried next year. The day was clear and sunny with barely any wind, so the jackets came off soon enough. Lunch was enjoyed on the roof of the snocat in the sun consisting of sandwiches and biscuit browns, a staple on this continent for many years now. After everything was completed and documented we headed out towards the coast along a safe route marked with flags. It felt like a day out on the beach even though we could only glimpse down the ice cliffs at the sea. The sound of lapping waves and the smell of salt in the air marked the moment. In the distance you could see the old emperor penguin colony with the remaining chicks and parents that didn’t manage to breed or raise their chicks quickly enough during the short Antarctic summer. All we could do was listen to their squawks as they echoed off the cliffs and let nature complete its cycle. We ate the last of the chocolate watching the skuas and petrels play in the wind currents at the edge of the cliff.

We managed to get a radio signal on the VHF to Halley after driving onto a small mound and informed them of the start of our return. On the way back we passed the old Halley V site, now an abandoned area dotted with a few flags and leftover automated instruments, including another weather station, which I was to service later in the week. There was a strange sight; the smooth blue top of a Halley VI style module was protruding from the snow surrounded by a load of warning flags. Apparently it was faulty when it arrived so they used it as a garage shed. Now it’s half buried and was to be removed later this season. We could still peek through the ceiling windows to see spectacular ice crystal formations growing undisturbed in the still air. Halley V was only a short distance away from the new site and a sense of content came over us as the station soon came into view on our return with the feeling of a job well done.

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