Four women from the United Kingdom will travel south in November for an incredible adventure. However, this extended trip will not involve sipping cocktails on warm beaches. Instead of packing swimsuits and sunscreen, they will likely fill their suitcases with jackets, sweaters, boots and other warm clothes. They’ll spend four months in Antarctica managing the world’s most remote post office!
The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust announced Clare Ballantyne, Lucy Bruzzone, Natalie Corbett and Mairi Hilton as the team to reopen the Port Lockroy outpost in Antarctica for the upcoming summer season.
Camilla Nichol, the chief executive of the trust, shared the exciting news on Twitter.
So excited to finally announce our team heading to #PortLockroy in #Antarctica this season. They’ve had a busy day around the news studios @AntarcticHT https://t.co/7BBUhRem6B
— Camilla Nichol (@camillajnichol) October 4, 2022
The Port Lockroy outpost on Goudier Island (which is nearly due south from the southern tip of South America) shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It serves as a post office, museum and wildlife tracking location.
The mission of Port Lockroy is to preserve the continent’s heritage and environment. The four women chosen for this job will each have different roles to assist in this mission.
Ballantyne, a 23-year-old who recently earned her master’s degree in earth science, will serve as Port Lockroy’s postmaster, which is a busier job than most may think. According to ITV, the polar post office handles about 80,000 cards by hand, which then get mailed out each year to more than 100 countries.
“I’m most looking forward to stepping onto Goudier Island and taking in the cacophony and pungent smell of the penguins, the backdrop of the glaciers and Fief mountains — and being able to call it home for the next few months,” she told ITV.
The new residents of Port Lockroy will live beside a colony of gentoo penguins. Keeping tabs on this colony will be Hilton’s job.
“I’m a conservation biologist, so personally I can’t wait to see the penguins and other wildlife like seabirds and whales,” Hilton said in a statement to the BBC.
While at Port Lockroy, the four women will face constant daylight during the Antarctic summer, have no internet service, and can only make 10 minutes worth of phone calls each week, according to ITV. Also, they will have no access to running water or a flushing toilet.
Corbett will serve as the outposts shop manager, which sees up to 18,000 visitors during the season thanks to regional tourism. Despite getting married in June, she said she couldn’t resist the opportunity to travel to Antarctica for a self-proclaimed “solo honeymoon.”
“Who wouldn’t want to spend five months working on an island filled with penguins in one of the most remote places on the planet,” she said in the statement to the BBC.
Bruzzone will act as the base leader, which means she will manage the resident team as well as coordinate all ship visits to the island.