Much of Antarctica has endured more than three months of complete darkness - but on Wednesday, the Sun rose again for the first time over the horizon at French-Italian Concordia Station, an extreme and isolated outpost located in Antarctica. Antarctic-based doctor Alexander Kumar, originally from Derbyshire, UK, and now based at the station, describes living through "the worst winter in the world".
Having spent months dreaming about this moment, this morning I woke up early and climbed outside onto the roof, alone. Remnants of the flags placed on the roof last summer fluttered back and forth, having been chewed away by the biting Antarctic winds.
Over the Great White Silence, the most magnificent sunrise unfolded before me over the cold, white and desolate alien landscape. My eyes ached in response to readjusting to the natural bright light - we have just spent over three months living in the long dark eternal polar night.
My iPod died within minutes, part way through The Beatles' song Here Comes the Sun, which I had chosen to mark this new chapter in my life.
During the long dark cold and lonely winter, I have read my way through the last hundred years of polar history. One story resonated throughout these long months, especially when I am traversing outside at this extreme.
British polar explorer and survivor of Scott's 1910 expedition Apsley Cherry-Garrard introduces his own experiences in his account The Worst Journey in the World with the words: "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised."
In his book, Cherry-Gerrard discusses the meaning of physical human suffering and resilience whilst enduring extreme conditions. Certainly, there have been few worse journeys documented in polar history than can be found in his account.
In July 1911, Doctor Edward Wilson led the expedition's zoological assistant, Cherry-Garrard and stout "Birdie" Bowers outside on a winter's journey. Setting out on foot, they headed for an Emperor Penguin's rookery located at Cape Crozier, crossing the Ross Ice Shelf in complete darkness in temperatures below -40C, to collect penguin eggs to test embryological theory.
Having had their tent blown away in a blizzard, they were without food for two days and two nights, sucking ice for rehydration. The three returned to Cape Evans base, barely alive but carrying three penguin eggs, having endured man's longest exposure to Antarctica's brutal nature.
"Over wintering" in Antarctica is a journey in itself, but nowadays challenges us in very different ways bringing a new type of psychological suffering than what is found in Cherry-Garrard's 1911 excursion.
Nowadays, over wintering has become more of a personal journey, and aside from the physical difficulties it remains the world's greatest psychological challenge - a mental marathon of sorts where there is no stopping or turning back.
I am the only British member of a European crew totalling 13 persons spending nine months in isolation at Concordia Station, a French-Italian research station in Antarctica and one of the world's most remote manned outposts. We have been alone living in complete isolation since February and had watched our last sunset at the very beginning of May.