Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Sunset until August

This posting comes four weeks late, but it took me a little while to get all the photos I wanted from other people. On Easter Sunday, April 24, the sun rose and set for the last time until late August. It was strange to see the end of sunlight on Easter rather than celebrating the arrival of spring. That afternoon, several of us took a trip to Castle Rock to see the final sunset at 1:44pm.

We rode to Castle Rock in this vehicle called the Nodwell. It about made me sick because it rides so roughly over the rock and snow roads. In order to turn, the driver stops the track on one side while the tracks on the other side continue forward. This causes the Nodwell to turn with several jolting motions. Ugh...

Larry, Cynthia, and Desiree were part of the group headed to Castle Rock.

I made the mistake of sitting in the back of the Nodwell, which almost made me throw up. Larry managed to stay cozy warm in his pink neck gaiter.

Due to the ice crystals in the air, Mt. Erebus' shadow could be seen against the southern horizon. I saw this same effect last year in August when the sun was just coming up.

In order to see the sunlight on the northern horizon, we had to climb up over a ridge near Castle Rock in cold, fierce wind.

Castle Rock

Looking out over the frozen sea to the north, you can see Tent Island and Inaccessible Island.

Larry hunches down near a snowdrift to get out of the wind.

Mt. Erebus blocked most of the view of the northern horizon, although you can see sunlight in the steam coming out of the top.

Beautiful colors on the horizon. Note how some of the water on the shoreline is not yet frozen.

A view of the Transantarctic Mountains in the twilight under the moon.

While the sea has frozen over, it still has many cracks running through it.

We found shelter from the wind here on the side of Castle Rock.

Even out of the wind, it didn't take long for the condensation from my breathing to form crystals on my face.

Hey, it's the sun! And it makes me smile. :)

A close-up of view of the thin sliver of sunlight visible to us. The downslope of Mt. Erebus blocked our view, but not enough to deny us our coveted last glimpse of precious sunlight.

Here I stand in front of the last sunlight for four months.

Group photo!

While the ocean has already begun to refreeze, here you can see the boundary of how far out the ice broke off this year. It hadn't opened up this far south since 1997.

As the sun set, the colors on the southern part of the sky deepened into rich reds and purples.

A view of the ridge of Hut Point Pennisula. Mt. Discovery and the Transantarctic Mountains are in the background.

Another panoramic view.


  1. I'm loving your blog -- thanks for the virtual trip to the south pole.

    enjoy a long winter's nap...