Blizzard conditions greeted us when we arrived at Port Lockroy, Base A. Several feet of snow covered the normal landing beach, so we cut steps into the snowbank to allow safe passage to the museum. The afternoon took us to Hidden Bay where we boarded Zodiacs for a look at the surrounding glaciers and towering peaks.

This island and nearby Jougla Point host roughly 1,600 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins. The penguins build stony nests on exposed rocks, an important process complicated by the season’s heavy snowfall. Gentoo penguins are more adaptable than other penguin species in Antarctica, but the heavy layers of snow that block access to nesting sites is a challenge even for them.

Today’s visit was humbling. Our photos are beautiful but sad illustrations of climate change on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. We were awed by the beauty we beheld, and while the day was sobering, we left with a renewed commitment to the world's greatest wilderness and a deeper understanding of what it means to be its stewards.