Friday, 27 July 2018

Flag Up

Looking South with the moon setting behind Jennie Island. 
The past month or so has felt like one of changing weather and light. The first few week after mid winter the weather was generally cold, settled and clear. The sun did not rise high enough to break the horizon. Through the day there were long periods of dawn/dusk which gave rise to skies characterised by soft pastel colours,  particularly when looking to the South. I don't remember such colours to the South last winter, then then again we did not have much settled weather last winter. 
The last time I had (just) seen in the sun. Climbing on Picts in early June. 
The last time I had actually seen the sun directly had been in early June. A few of us were climbing on the North side of a mountain called Picts. At around one o'clock the top of the sun disk just manged to scrape it's appear above the horizon to the North. I basked in it's weak pinkish glow for twenty minutes or so before it was gone.
The view out across the sea ice in early July.

Clouds catching the sunshine looking South just before the weather broke. 

The view from the skidoo parking pot the say we headed up Gwendolyn. We could tell it was going to be a good view on top. 
The next time I saw the sun was on the 14th of July, the same date as last year. A few of us went for a ski tour up one of the local peaks, Gwendolyn. Being slightly higher than the surrounding Stokes Peaks, and having a clear view to the North, it gets a lot of sunshine. Skinning up over the summit rise and into my first direct sunshine for about five weeks was an uplifting experience. Despite it being cold and windy on the summit, I stayed as long as  long as possible, and was the last one to head back down into the shadows.
Seeing the sun for the first time, on the summit of Gwendolyn
A couple of days after Gwendolyn the weather changed. The winds from the North strengthened, it got a lot milder (to the extent that it actually rained one day) and the skies become overcast, and stayed that way. It felt like someone had turned back the clock in terms of daylight, it seemed dark and ominous outside.

The flag-up ceremony was held during a break in the weather on the 21st of July. The Union Jack on the hill above Rothera is raised when the sun gets high enough above the horizon that Rothera would get some sunshine if it were clear. The flag is raised by the youngest person on base, who this year is Elgan the Chippie. He read out a poem, it was in Welsh so I didn't understand any of it, but it was nice all the same. It was another four or five days before it was actually clear enough for base to get some sunshine, and even then it was only for a few minutes. 
The 26 of us who are wintering at Rothera just after the flag had been raised.

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