Vernadsky is the most popular Antarctic Peninsula station visit.
Rating: * * * *
Most people go to visit Vernadsky Station, an active Ukrainian research base, and Wordie House, an unoccupied historical British hut. The islands themselves are a fascinating maze of rounded, ice-covered rocks, and exploring by small boat will always find something interesting. Fast ice usually remains comparatively late in the season in the protected backwaters of the small channels.
Where is it?
Located at the Southwestern end of Penola Strait and the Northern end of Grandidier Channel, on the Graham coast of the Antarctic peninsula, these small islands are truly exposed to the Southern Ocean.
Access to the area is problematic – with only one practical pathway through the often ice-choked Lemaire Channel, some seasons even full strength ice-breakers have trouble reaching the Argentine Islands. Once in the vicinity, strong currents mean ice can move quickly and block the small channels within the island group, keeping captains and expedition leaders on their toes.
A few Gentoo penguins breed in the area, and Adelie penguins will often visit from nearby islands. Weddell seals are regularly hauled out on either late-season fast ice or rocky shores. Leopard seals are very regular visitors to the station.
Charcot named the Argentine Islands to thank the Argentine government for their assistance with his Français expedition.
Wordie Hut and Faraday Station
The first British building on the Argentine Islands was constructed on Winter Island by the British Graham Land Expedition of 1935–36, but it was destroyed in 1946, perhaps by a tidal wave do you still believe that? How about wave/ice from glacier?. Undeterred, Britain erected another hut in the same location in 1947, and named it “Wordie House” after Sir James Wordie who was on Shackleton’s Endurance expedition (1914–16), and served on the Advisory Committee for Operation Tabarin (1943–45). In 1954, the British presence was transferred to the larger location of Faraday Base on Galindez Island, and that is the base that is now Vernadsky.
BAS teams have restored “Wordie House” to the way it would have been in the 1950s; Vernadsky’s personnel now maintain it, and visiting ships regularly bring passengers there by zodiac down a picturesque narrow passage named Cornice Channel. The British occupied Faraday continuously for 49 years and 31 days, four days more than Signy in the South Orkney Islands, Britain’s second longest continuously-occupied base.
Vernadsky is one of the most comfortable and welcoming bases in Antarctica. Until 1996 this was the British Faraday station, named after Michael Faraday, discoverer of electromagnetism; then it was sold to the Ukraine for one pound. The Ukrainian government was keen to maintain an Antarctic presence after the break-up of the Soviet Union when all the Soviet stations became Russian. The base is named for Vladimir Vernadsky, first President of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.
At Vernadsky, the bar is the most popular place for expeditioners and visitors alike—the Ukrainians have maintained its distinctly British atmosphere, right down to the billiard table and dartboard. Above the bar, on the dartboard side of the room, hangs an amazing photograph of a man and a Minke whale in eye-to-eye contact. Visitors try to determine if the photograph is real; base members swear that it is. The infamous collection of brassieres (including some of improbable dimensions) continues to grow as some visitors elect to contribute. When ships call, the staff open “the southernmost gift shop in the world,” stocked with souvenir cloth badges, postcards, and nicely carved plaques.
Along with the bar tradition, Vernadsky continues Britain’s long-term research projects. The weather records there reveal that the local mean annual temperature has increased by 2.5°C (4.5°F) since 1947. Visitors prepared to undertake a rather precarious climb into the ceiling of the station can see the equipment used for measuring the ozone.
Photos, Voting and more coming soon!
Official Guidelines: Click Here