The final ANI Ilyushin flight of the 2011-12 Anniversary season departed from Union Glacier ice runway On January 31. Last to leave were a small team of staff, who had worked hard over previous weeks to dismantle camp and store everything securely for the upcoming winter.
The Antarctic summer is short and intense. It seems only yesterday we welcomed our first guests of the season, bursting with energy and anticipation, ready to conquer Antarctica and take part in the Amundsen and Scott Centenary celebrations. It's been three hectic months of 24 hr daylight and a flurry of activity. We had a record number of South Pole expeditions, major science support contracts, a full season on Mount Vinson, and increasing interest in our Union Glacier-based climbing and skiing Experiences.
There is a different feeling as the temperature drops and the season draws to a close. Camp is quieter and more contemplative as the last expeditions come in - Alexsander Gamme, Justin Jones and James Castrisson completed their ski expeditions from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back just in time. Dreams have been fulfilled, sometimes in unexpected ways, and there is a deeper understanding and respect for Antarctica's pristine beauty and harsh environment. There is also a sense of loss at leaving behind something so pure and elemental to re-enter a busy internet world and sensory overload.
And now Antarctica returns to darkness and winter storms, and we prepare for the 2012-13 season, when we will once again gently set foot on the 7th continent, ready for new challenges and dreams.