Polar station at Rudolf Island

Rudolf Island (ostrov Rudol'fa) is the northernmost island of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, the northernmost point of Russia and, ultimately, the northernmost point of Europe. The island was discovered in 1873 by the Austro-Hungarian explorers Julius Payer and Karl Weyprecht, who named it in honour of prince Rudolf, the son of the Austrian emperor Franz Josef.

In 1932 the Soviet Union established an ice station at Teplitz Bay (81°48'N 57°56'E), which has served for many years as an important center for meteorological studies and a base camp for numerous polar expeditions. Normally, six people were operating the station throughout the year, supplied by air. In 1995 the station was permanently shut down in order to be replaced with an automated weather observing system.

In September 2004 I went to the North Pole with a Russian nuclear icebreaker Yamal. On our way back to Murmansk we stopped at Rudolf Island and spent some time wandering around the abandoned structures, stumbling upon an occasional artifact – a wheel, a rotten truck, a bent bucket. An eerie sight – and one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The pictures I took there look as if they are black and white while in fact they are not.

At picture #3 you can see the warehouse; at #2 and #5, the radio mast; at #6, fuel tanks; at #7, elevated sidewalk that would not get covered by snow; at #9, a guard holding an AK-47, watching for bears; at #10, a row of containers for meteorological instruments; at #13, the garage.Also note the Yamal at the last picture and a Mi-8 helicopter at the first one. I wish I could go there again.