This is the new Arctowski blog. To see the entries from the 30th Polish Antarctic Expedition, click here.
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Jacek (jacaDcaps) Piszczek @ The Polish Antarctic Station, Henryk Arctowski, 2nd stay
2012/12/07 - Time for some closure. In the end I went back to Poland right after the Torres del Paine trip and finally got to my hometown - Torun - on the 13th of November. Right now I am already back at my regular job, living in a small flat in Warsaw, trying to get used to the daily life in Poland. The few weeks I have already spent here have been pretty random and a bit bumpy, but I was able to see most of my friends already and even run in a half marathon :)

Torres del Paine itself was quite an adventure. I've spent 4 days and 3 sleepless nights in the park, carrying two heavy backpacks. The weather was really bad, except for the last day. Heavy wind, rain, snow and the cold made it an unforgettable experience. I've been doing about 20km each day, except for the last one which was an easy 8km hike. Luckily, you can drop your backpack everywhere you like if you intend to go back the same way or even leave your tent set up in one of the camp sites. That really saved me on the second day. It was raining and snowing the whole day and I've seen just 3 people during the whole hike - everyone gathered at a refugio that was waiting for me at the end of that day's hike. At least it was possible to sit next to a small stove and warm/dry myself up a bit before going back to the tent. The 3rd day was probably the worst since I was already quite tired, had to carry everything with me the whole way and end the day with a steep climb to the camp site below the Torres. The sunrise made it really worthwile though!

See for yourself...
One of the Falkland Island's birdsTo get to the beach, one must pass between former minefields. Watch your step though, the mines may still be there in the sand...The beaches were just lovelyA catamaran is the beginning of the Torres del Paine hikeUhm... a glacier... kinda boring after a year in the Antarctic
Clouds, clouds everywhereViews of Torres del PaineViews of Torres del PaineOne of the large lakes in the ParkViews of Torres del Paine
One of the really cludy momentsYay, more cloudsTorres del Paine in the eveningNext to my tent after the 3rd day. Tired, wet, cold, smelly!Torres during the sunrise
The sunrise itself
2012/11/6 – So here I am in Chile, Puerto Natales.

The stay at Stanley was actually pretty interesting thanks to a meeting I seriously did not expect. It turned out Mariusz, a winterer from my previous stay at Arctowski was also at the Falklands at the time. We had a chance to drink some wine and talk about the good old times at Arctowski and how our lives have changed since then - the last time we saw each other in real life was over a year ago, when I was packing for the Wintering.

I also did some shorter and longer walks, but couldn't see any Magellanic penguins at the Gypsy Cove in the end, although there were some nests there - they dig them underground. I did however see several minefields. Minefields also surrounded us through half the way to the Mount Pleasant RAF airport from which we flew to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Punta Arenas is pretty small, but at least my mobile phone finally started sort of working - how do you even use a thing like that again? :)

Anyway, I am preparing for the Torres del Paine trekking tour right now. This is going to be fun :)
2012/11/01 – The cargo unloading period was rough on everyone - as usual. After a few hours of good weather when the Polar Pioneer arrived, the weather went bad and we had to resort to doing one or two amphibia loads at a time and taking a longer break, sometimes for two days, waiting for the winds to calm down. Ironically, the crabeaters I really wanted to photograph during this stay showed up during the fuel delivery when I already had my zoom lens packed into the box that will arrive in Poland sometime in May next year. Either way I did take several photos during the unloading, but have no means of uploading them right now.

Due to the strong winds, we had plenty of problems with ice. Our amphibia got stuck several times just a few meters from the shore and we wasted a lot of time just getting it afloat or back on land. During the last day we even lost our zodiacs since their engines cooling systems got stuck after sucking in pea sized chunks of ice. Just pushing the zodiac through all the ice was a challenge. Luckily the water in our bay was clear next to the ship itself.

The Drake could have been worse... but it wasn't nice either. We generally strayed off course to avoid the worst, but the waves were still pretty big and the ship would move in all directions forcing us to spend most of the time lying down. Eating was always worst since the mess is located in the front of the ship. It ain't funny when you and your food goes up and down a couple of meters every 10 seconds or so. You'd eat quickly and run away praying you'll manage to get to your room before your body decides to reject what you just ate. Half an hour in the bed, eyes closed, would usually help.

Port Stanley, Falklands looks as if a small part of Great Britain had been cut out and placed in the southern hemisphere. Apart from the fact that everyone drives a jeep here, it really looks familiar. I was expecting some weird accent, but people here speak pretty nice English which is generally easy for me to understand. The only thing I can whine about is the Internet access price - 10 pounds per 100 minutes does hurt.

And there's the minefields, of course.
2012/10/17 - And that's it :)... It's been an exciting, sometimes scary but most of all a really surprising year. Hope you enjoyed this blog.

And where the hell are the crabeater seals, eh?
The Team
2012/10/14 - Went for a few short walks around the area to take a few photos. There's plenty of elephant seals coming to our area now. The weddel seal pup is a lot bigger than the last time I went there. The American Copacabana crew arrived today on their icebreaker and supplied us with some fresh vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs - what a feast this is! We didn't have anything fresh since months now, the apples only lasted until April or so. So a loaf of freshly baked bread, butter, ham, lettuce, tomatoes and onions tasted like heaven!
Belly slideA huge elephant seal maleAnother bullLaurence M. GouldSex on the beach
More sexAn elephant near one of the rookeriesThe weddel pupSleeping next to its momArctowski with plenty of snow around it
2012/10/12 - Spring time is really here. The elephant seals came back after the winter season and formed harems in which the pups are born. We were lucky enough to witness this at Patelnia. The day turned out to be marvellous (up to the point of sunburn). It was really great being able to cross the glaciers, see Patelnia, Baranowski and the Copacabana beach. The Bay is currently mostly free of ice, although most days are rather windy. Snow seems to be melting at rapid speeds again - but who knows - a few days ago we had a lot of snowfall as well.

Since this year in the Antarctica is coming to an end, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following this blog during these past months. Thanks for all the emails and other feedback I've received about the blog and youtube channel uploads.

There will still be a few more entries before we leave. I'll try to give an account of my journey back into civilisation when I'm back in Poland.
Elephant seal pup, a couple days oldAdult elephant seal (female)Weddel seal, cute as alwaysGood weather calls for a fisheye photoA big elephant seal male, the bruising comes from fighting over females
A couple intruders inside the harem - giant petrels and sheathbillsThis pup was born literally minutes before taking the photoA sheathbillAnother pupElephant seal
Alpha male and one of the femalesGiant petrel in a rare closeupAlpha male and females againFemales and pupsAnother pup
A view from above of the Baranowski glacier areaAntarctic ternAnd we're back at the base...
2012/10/11 - Short sequence from the elephant seal colony where the little ones are now being born. Photos to follow.
2012/10/10 - There's too much happening for me to keep up lately. The world around is slowly changing after the Winter season. I'm spending hours on Skype (hi Magda! :) and trying to get the return trip organised. Luckily there's still some time to make some photos.
Dirty adeli on the rookeryA mostly clean adeli :)Picking up stones for the nestA calm eveningRookery during snowfall
Giant petrelThe Return of the KingOur sole king penguinSurprising it came backThe weddel seal pup is growing
Eating snow.. and a pawpalm :)
2012/10/05 - Over the past few days we've seen waves of adeli penguins coming back to the rookeries. On a nice calm day like the one pictured, you'd be able to hear them calling from far away in the Bay. The adelis already ashore would reply to their calls and within minutes, you could see a group of 5-10 penguins jumping out of the water.
Gentoo penguinA nice calm windless dayThe adelis are coming backA freshly lanudered adeliMore adelis, woohoo
...and their funny walkAnother wave
2012/09/29 - A few photos I've been circulating to IRC and Skype dwellers for the past few days. Went to do sea mammal monitoring with Joanna and Artur on a really nice sunny day which gave us an opportunity to take a few photos. It's really cool how quickly one can move on top of the glacier. The Copacabana beach had quite a few gentoos though less than the last time I was there. That was also the day I saw that lovely weddel seal pup. The next post will finally have some adelis :)
Czajkowski NeedleThe Baranowski GlacierGentoos!NomWeddel seal pup
2012/09/28 - It suddenly feels like the pace around here is picking up after the winter. There's a lot of happening in the nature around Arctowski and in life. A weddel seal was just born near the Station, the adelis have come back and there's more and more of them each day. Soon the sheathbills and fur seals will disappear and skuas will come back. It was +8.1°C for a short moment today and for about half an hour I was walking around outside in just a t-shirt.

2012/09/25 - With Polar Pioneer on its way, some of the people here are mostly packed. We're just waiting for the confirmation of our return flights to start planning trips through South America. It seems that today we'll have to dig to remove snow from doors and windows to our main building. Sunny days mix with gloomy ones lately, and unexpectedly, last sunday was sunny. I've hiked to the Italian Valley again to have a look at the sunbathed glaciers and rest a bit from the usual daily noise at Arctowski. It was a perfectly windless day, so the only things one could hear was snow and ice under my feet and rare shouts of the antarctic terns, which have returned here in large numbers. It was really warm in the sun, despite -10°C on the thermometer. The way back through Ezcurra was even nicer - all the melting that's been going on for a while now formed a wide, flat and solid path at the shore. Some photos below.
A whiteboard in the kitchen with drawings left by MartaOh, hi!A weddel spotted near the lighthouseWeddel sealAren't they lovely?
One of the nicer daysFinally some of the colours are backJardine PeakEzcurra InletPenguins!
2012/09/18 - A few better days meant several walks in the area as well as some extra time spent on the scooters. Sadly, they're past now and we've been having another rough period of rainy, windy and dusky days. Luckily, northern winds usually don't cause big problems with our satellite dish, so Skype chats kept me from being depressed about the sights outside. A few photos shot before the bad weather came below.
Sunny morning, the snow turned into a thick ice capA view towards Pilots MountGiant petrelEcology glacier closeupAnother sunny day
Seagull on approachLonely fur sealArctowski
2012/09/13 - Sometimes our daily routines can be changed by doing something fun or by a totally unexpected visit from the new Ferraz crew. We had a chance to meet the new chief of the base, take a few photos and chat about the challenges standing before them. Hopefully they will be wintering here next season, so let's keep our fingers crossed it all goes well. The Brazilian ships should be here by the beginning of November, so hopefully we will have a chance to see them before we depart.

2012/09/6 - The spring didn't last long, but at least it left us with a few more opportunities to make photos. The gentoos started showing up near the base now, but since both snow and packed ice are back, they may as well stop coming - haven't seen any today at least. We're looking forward to the adeli penguins as well. Meanwhile, a lone leopard seal appeared on the ice near the lighthouse. That's a sign there's food nearby (read: penguins).
Sheathbills in large numbersOh, hi Magda :)ROTFLWarming one of the legs up, a very common sightLess snow means some of the colours are back
A rare, calm night
2012/09/1 - The gentoo penguins are back at Copacabana and in great numbers. They've already started working on rebuilding the nests in all of their colonies over there. It was really cool being able to see them again after the long period of their absence. They showed up a couple of times during the winter and we could also hear them calling from time to time, but that cannot really be compared to thousands of them sitting in one place.
The Copacabana beachGentoos are gathering in great numbersScratching, you can see this one is taggedAnother view from the Ecology glacierAnd a calm evening at the end of the day
2012/08/29 - Finally a period of better weather. The snow is slowly melting, but it's still possible to move around on the ski-doos. We had some heavy snowfall right after the flood, but that's all gone now. There's more and more water below the buildings, especially the meteorological one.

Meanwhile, the 37th Polish Antarctic Expedition is getting ready to embark. Polar Pioneer is in Gdynia already and is said to depart in a few days.
In the morningSunriseSunriseA sheathbill photographed through one of the windows - shows how much snow there was outsideSunset
Samolot at sunsetRandom cloudsOur connection to the outside worldThe winds weren\'t kind to the flag poleWe don\'t get thunder, but we do get rainbows
One word: coldMore funky cloudsAnother sunriseThe sun lights up the windows in the small hut below the lighthouseWeddel seal at Patelnia
Sugar mound and other nearby hills seen from PatelniaEmpty penguin rookery. The smell is still thereAren\'t those patterns just lovely?A fur sealFirst elephant seal marks an early beginning of a new season
Czajkowski needleAt the Ecology glacier
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