King penguins

Farthest south!


Antarctica Home Page


The Beginnings

     Why Antarctica?  That is usually the first question I get asked when I talk of this trip.  I would like to say that it is something I have always wanted to do, but that isn’t the case.  I really only remember being interested in the place in the mid 1980s, after watching the PBS series The Last Place on Earth, about the “contest” between Scott and Amundsen to be the first to reach the South Pole.  I started reading the book by the same name (by Roland Huntford).  Then, I read Amundsen’s book, The South Pole.  Then, I got more interested in Shackleton and read his book The Heart of the Antarctic, and Huntford’s biography.  I was hooked.  I have acquired more books than I have read (sigh) and many of the DVDs now available, including original footage from Scott’s 1911 expedition and Shackleton’s Endurance experience.  I used to daydream about taking a dog sled journey around the mountainous borders of the Ross Ice Shelf.  While I may be passionate, I am not crazy - climbing crevasse-filled glaciers to reach the plateau at 9,000 feet (where the South Pole is located) hasn’t been one of my desires!

     My interest in Antarctica has been centered on the “heroic” exploration of the continent.  For the academic year 2004-2005 I was granted a sabbatical, not to go to Antarctica, but to do some research (which is going nicely).  But, there was an opportunity to do something that I might otherwise never get to do.  So, I thought of Antarctica and I started doing some web research on trips, cruises and expeditions that would get me there.  Most tourist travel (some 85%, or more) is to the peninsula area, close to South America.  The rest is to the Ross Sea area, where the human history is so much more prominent.  [However, Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance voyage was to the Weddell Sea, which borders the peninsula.]

     There are, generally speaking, about eight trips a season to the Ross Sea, undertaken by only two ships.  Each lasts about a month, and there is only time for four trips per ship when conditions are good enough for travel.  One ship holds about 50 passengers and is ice-strengthened (Spirit of Enderby).  I had tried to book my journey on this vessel, but the trips were sold out.  [I didn’t try booking my trip, planned for February, 2005, until November, 2004.]  The other ship holds about 100 passengers and is the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov.  For it, there were a couple of vacancies.  I chose a triple, which at some $14,000 was still a few thousand more than a double on the Enderby!  It was worth that, and more!  I cannot believe my good luck in this regard.

     I booked the trip through Expedition Cruises and had the advantage of unbiased information – that is, they represented both ships.  I was told that it was quite likely that the Enderby would not make it to McMurdo Station (the American base), but, almost certainly the Khlebnikov would.  That, as it turns out, is exactly what happened during the time frame I chose for the journey – the Enderby got no further than just past the behemoth iceberg B15 before it had to turn around.  I do not think that their passengers got to see the huts at Cape Royds, Cape Evans and at McMurdo, nor visit the Dry Valleys.  For me, those were the places I most wanted to see on this trip, and I would have been quite disappointed if I hadn’t been able to do so.

     I did have a choice of the January-February trip, or the February-March trip.  I chose the former, for fear of an early winter spoiling opportunities during the latter trip.  How did the trip go?  In a word – Perfect!  The weather was not always sunny and clear, but it accommodated absolutely everything we could have wanted to do.  And the ocean was so calm that we gained time on our schedule and we were able to make an unprecedented landing at Leningradskaya, an abandoned Soviet station, just before leaving the continent.  But, more about that later.

     This journal is constructed as one web page for each day of my journey, including the arrival day in Auckland, and the final two days, which I spent in Hobart.  I have tried to keep the picture images of a reasonable size for easy web page loading.  To see a much larger view of (practically) any image, just left-click on the photo.
     Follow the "Next" and "Back" links to go from page to page.  Or, return to this
"Antarctica Home Page" and link to any day from the "Daily Logs" below.  If you have any comments, feel free to pass them along to me at the e-mail, below.  Please put “Antarctica” in the subject category.

Antarctica Home Page


Daily Logs
Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
At sea
Day 3
Enderby Is.
Day 4
Campbell Is.
Day 5
At sea
Day 6
First ice
Day 7
Cape Adare
Day 8
Iceberg B-15
Day 9
Dry Valleys
Day 10 (a)
Cape Royds
Day 10 (b)
Cape Evans
Day 11
Day 12
On B-15 K
Day 13
Terra Nova
Day 14
Cape Hallett
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Sabrina Is.
Day 18
Last ice
Day 19
At sea 
Day 20
Macquarie Is.
Day 21
Macquarie Is.
Day 22
At sea
Day 23
At sea
Day 24
Day 25
Day 26
     I also wrote up an article of my trip for the local paper titled A Journey To Antarctica.  It has the advantage of being short, but adequately captures the experience.  And, it includes a few photos.