Winter-over at Palmer Station:
Interestingly, the people at Palmer Station who stay here for the winter months are referred to as winter-overs. The act of staying here is called wintering over - and not overwinter. I was curious as to why, so I searched on Google. There seems to be a syndrome called winter-over syndrome. These are behavioral or medical disturbances caused in part caused by the sheer isolation from the outside world, the monotony of the surrounding, and very short days. So, it is not easy to be here in winter! You need the right mindset and dedication.
In early years, there were only about 6-8 people remaining on station during winter. Below is the very first group, in 1965! They even had a dog named Eddie! Nowadays, the number of people wintering over has at least doubled.
The first two women to winter-over at Palmer Station were Ann and Rebecca in 1983 (see left photo), nearly 20 years after Palmer Station was built! Women are now more common in the winter-over group (see right photo for the 2018 winter). This upcoming winter there are at least five women: a scientist (Kim Bernard from Oregon State University), a chef, a lab assistant and two in logistics.
The winter-overs will arrive in April, when most of the station (including me) return home. It is also called the turnover boat. There is a slight time-overlap, so I will get to meet them briefly. They will remain here until early October.
Life does slow down a bit in winter. Aside from more limited science during winter compared to summer, the station will also be better able to get major maintenance or repairs done on the buildings (summers are simply too hectic to work on big projects). Winter is also a good time to check on the next summer’s inventory to keep Palmer Station’s operations running smoothly.