In hindsight, perhaps it would have been wiser to overwinter in Antarctica at one of the so-called ‘Caribbean’ stations on the coast. Instead, overcome by a sense of adventure – and romantic tales of polar exploration – I threw myself in at the deep end, choosing to spend a year at Concordia Station, a French–Italian research outpost located at an altitude of 3,200 metres on the East Antarctic Plateau, the world’s highest, driest, coldest and largest desert.

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