Mountaineer to take charge of UK’s most southerly post office in Antarctic

A mountaineer gearing up to take charge of the UK’s most southerly post office in the wilds of the Antarctic has said it is a privilege.

Port Lockroy is a windswept and snow-clad island the size of a football pitch off the continent’s peninsula which stretches northwards towards South America.

The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust chose Kit Adams and other team members to work in sub-zero temperatures, with no mains electricity or running water.

The post office handles around 80,000 post cards a year and is busy with tourists from cruise ships which stop there.

It also receives requests for stamps from people around the world.

Mr Adams, 26, from Newcastle in Co Down, said: “Polar places are something which I am passionate about.

“It is such a unique environment to live and spend such a prolonged period of time in.

“Very few people get to go and even less get to spend such a significant period of time being part of the environment and being able to impart snippets of knowledge.”

Kit Adams, who is swapping life in Co Down for a role as a postman in Antarctica. Credit: PA

The island was originally set up in a secret British military operation and later converted into a museum and post office.

It is home to around 2,000 gentoo penguins and hosts tourists off cruise ships during the southern hemisphere’s summer months.

The posting will involve working at the shop and museum, monitoring the penguins and lecturing on the cruise ships.

When he arrives later this year he expects to find a lot of sea ice and the area covered in snow.

“We may have to dig out the buildings, though the sea ice will decrease and the snow will melt.”

The temperature will be well below zero on occasion once wind chill is factored in.

Glare from the snow will be a major issue and will require protective sun glasses.

The post office handles around 80,000 post cards a year. Credit: The Antarctic Heritage Trust

By the end of the summer season most of the snow will have melted.

In preparation for the posting Mr Adams received a lecture from a “penguinologist”, a type of ornithologist.

He has learned about the birds’ life cycles, and how to conduct surveys on the animals.

Part of the role will be ensuring the birds are not interfered with by visitors.

The geographer has always been interested in mountaineering, growing up at the foot of the Mourne range in Co Down.

He recalled of the peaks: “When there was snow on them they became even more appealing.”

Part of his geography degree involved conducting research on avalanching in Scottish mountains.

He has previously been to the Arctic; to the northern Norway mainland, Svalbard island and Greenland.