From the Archive: Beaver Lake Camp, Antarctica

Beaver Lake Summer Camp, Northern Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica. © www.thomaspickard.com

Beaver Lake Summer Camp, Northern Prince Charles Mountains, Antarctica. © www.thomaspickard.com

One thing you never get used to in Antarctica is the absolute vastness of the place.

Take this photo of Beaver Lake summer camp in the Northern Prince Charles Mountains. The Twin Otter aircraft is on the frozen lake ice, which as you can see, extends off into the hills on the far side of the photo. Those hills are Jetty Peninsula.

How far away do you think it is?

Two or three kilometres?

That is what I thought when I first arrived. That is until I looked at the map and realised it was ten kilometres away.

Antarctica’s vastness is exacerbated in part by the lack of objects between you and a distance object - in this case the wide expanse of lake between the camp and Jetty Peninsula in the background. If there was some recognisable element part way out on the lake, then it would give everything some scale for us to adjust our perspective.

The other polar trick, is one of light.

The air in Antarctica is pretty free of dust, dirt and pollen. As a result, the air is amazingly clear. Air this clear has a tack sharp sort of quality to it, meaning things somehow appear closer than they actually are.