On Thu 11th Aug the sun crossed the horizon at Halley for the first time in 104 days marking the end of the Antarctic winter. As is tradition we gathered on the roof of E1 at 13:50 where our youngest wintering team member, our electronics engineer Ross come to be known as Sir Rosington or Col. Sanders because of his legendary antics, raised a new flag above the modules. After an inspirational haiku, again another speciality of Ross’, and some throwing of snow chunks at each other while still wearing our Halley Prison overalls from the film festival, we headed over to upper obs for a glass of champagne to watch the sun rise. Sadly the clouds hinted at some mystical light, but it was not to be seen on this day. We had the rest of the afternoon off, as well as Fri. Everyone was relieved, but also quite exhausted now that winter is officially over.
On Fri we went skijouring for the first time since March, although the contrast was poor it was great to be out again. In the evening we had the second part of the midwinter bar crawl starting in the garage where we had a drink sat in and on the snocat that was defrosting. Next we moved on to the Drewry, the summer staff accommodation, for some black light sun cream painting and fruity punch. Next the WASP, i.e. the field guide’s workshop, had been transformed into a glow stick disco and finally the two last bars in the A module of the station. The kitchen turned into the Dragon’s Inn with charming ambience and upstairs in the TV room all team members had to stand trial for their various crimes during winter under the strict eye of the station’s magistrate.
The rest of the weekend everyone put their feet up and relaxed trying to let the experience of the polar winter sink in.
Over a week later on Fri 19th a strange glowing thing was spotted in the sky and confirmed to be the sun making it a generous 116 days since the sun was last seen. The platform on H2 roof became a crowded viewing area before lunch and even attracted a brave sunbather in a mankini at -31 °C. At that moment I think the realisation that winter was truly over finally dawned on us and a more sombre, quiet atmosphere surrounded the modules, as most people just stood there feeling the sun on their faces for the first time.
That afternoon I took advantage of the good weather and manhauled to the snow stakes for the first time in daylight. The snow was smooth and we glided over a frozen ocean with its light swell and small ripples captured unmoving in an endless moment. Once more the snow has its typical silky blue texture when bathed in orange light and a peacefulness left to the very few untouched places on this planet.