Antarctica: Year on Ice

DATELINE:  Cold Beauty

 Not Mars.

When a New Zealand photographer named Anthony Powell  decided to document life on Antarctica, he knew he had to go for one full year in order to show what is there and to experience the stunning dangers of life at the bottom of the Earth.

It is called A Year on Ice.

Anarctica is amazing in many ways of natural beauty, but the 5000 people who live there from 30 different countries are likely to be as weird as the location.

It takes a special schizoid personality to deal with close quarters in shoddy little ice towns like McMurdo. If you have a short-temper, you may be in big trouble. These people seem to have given up family and civilization for adventure, but many return after the short summer. It is those 700 who remain for the long, dark winter who are truly strange people.

We see childish games, memory issues from living in a world upside down (June and July have no sunlight). Your sun usually travels horizontally across the horizon. It does not rise. They lose ability to judge, but forge bonds you might never expect.

Spectacular sights greet them. It is silent there when the wind does not blow. We mean soundless. You can speak in a whisper and sound like you’re shouting. The plains of volcanic rock stretch endlessly. Most places are like Mars, and most places have never had a human imprint or footprint.

In darkness you have waves of green drapes in the sky: the aurora borealis is staggering and endless, bringing some visitors to tears. They cannot help animals in distress—for that breaks the prime directive to leave the place pristine. All trash and human remnants are shipped out.

We found the lack of discussion about medical treatment to be alarming. For six months you are trapped, and there seem to be no provisions for medical emergencies—which would preclude anyone with a health issue from going there.

Antarctica is something to behold—from the safe distance of a documentary like this one.