Living in Antarctica at Halley VI

Having read Shackleton, Mawson, Steger, Scott, Ousland and others, I have always been fascinated by Antarctica and the quest for the South Pole. Living and working there have also always been a dream. The international stations located around the continent do interesting research that help to explain how Antarctica is changing and how the world’s climate is being altered.

Ian Hey, a mountain climber and guide based in Snowdonia, North Wales, worked at the British Antarctic Survey Station Halley VI for a year and documented the experience.

Located at Lat. 75°35’S, Long. 26°39’W, Halley VI is the first fully moveable research station on the continent. It operates throughout the year, with a crew of about 70 in the summer and 16 during the winter. Earlier versions of the station (Halley I to IV) were buried by annual snow accumulation and crushed. Halley V was place on stilts that could be raised, but eventually the ice shelf the station is located on moved too far from the mainland and was at risk of being cast adrift on an iceberg.

Haller VI consists of seven modules (each about 160 sq. meters) and one social hub (about double the size). The modules are built on hydraulic stilts that can be raised and lowered, but rather than being set into the ice, the stilt ends are giant skids. When lowered to the ground, the modules can be dragged to a new position by tractors or bulldozers.

Robert Falcon Scott’s hut in the Antarctic.

The video reveals the process for setting up a research station at one of the ends of the earth and the difficulty of supplying it and its crew. The station’s location is stunning and the team works in a beautiful — if brutally cold — environment. The only thing missing from the video are interior images of the station. I would have loved to have seen what it looked it. Maybe something like this? Doubtful.

(Ever wonder how a penguin stands up? Check the video at 5:40 for the answer.)

A little more about the station can be found here.