3. The Grandeur of Antarctica

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June 10th 2008
Published: June 14th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

3.1 Snow Island3.1 Snow Island3.1 Snow Island

A basaltic outcrop with cloud streaming from its top. Livingston Island is in the background.
One of the things that I had been really looking forward to when setting off for Antarctica in 2002 was to experience its grandeur. The snow-covered mountains disappearing into a blue vault; the enormous tabular icebergs floating past with some twenty stories above the waterline; glacier faces crumbling into the sea and the black of volcanic outcrops against a white backdrop of snow.
As it turned out we did not quite get to see all of these things, partly because we were not in the right place for all of them and partly because, on that first visit, we had very little sunshine. Yet, I am certainly not sorry that we went because we did see a snow covered island against the blue sky in the South Shetlands. We did see tabular icebergs in the distance when we were below the Antarctic Circle, although their size was questionable: I am reminded of that story of one of the early explorers who dropped a chocolate paper and his companion who was following some distance behind thought, at first, that it was a mountain range. We did see numerous glaciers and icebergs with their intense blue chasms and grottoes and we
3.2 A snow-covered island3.2 A snow-covered island3.2 A snow-covered island

This island is located off the Antarctic Peninsular.
heard one calve into the sea so that when we turned there was a mound of crushed ice bobbing up and down with a semicircular bow wave travelling across the bay. We did see black basaltic outcrops against a backdrop of cloud rather than snow: dramatic rather than spectacular. And then there were the things I hadn't expected. The sea like a mill pond in an enclosed bay so that the reflection of the foot of a glacier was almost as distinct as the foot itself. The Polar Pioneer, a ship of over 2,000 tons, being dwarfed by a glacial foot or looking no bigger than a fly on another enclosed bay when seen from, in relative terms, a small hill.
But perhaps more important than all this is just being there: experiencing the stillness, the blueness of icebergs and glaciers, the biting winds, the social interactions with and the struggles of the wildlife.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


3.3 An enclosed bay on the Antarctic Peninsular3.3 An enclosed bay on the Antarctic Peninsular
3.3 An enclosed bay on the Antarctic Peninsular

The Polar Pioneer is in the middle of the bay.
3.4 Paradise Bay3.4 Paradise Bay
3.4 Paradise Bay

This photo was taken from the hill behind Almirante Brown Station.
3.5 Mahogany Bluff3.5 Mahogany Bluff
3.5 Mahogany Bluff

Taken from False Island Point, Vega Island, with the Polar Pioneer in the middle distance.
3.6 A glacial foot3.6 A glacial foot
3.6 A glacial foot

The Polar Pioneer is dwarfed by this glacier in the Antarctic Peninsular.
3.7 Another glacial foot3.7 Another glacial foot
3.7 Another glacial foot

In the calm waters of this enclosed bay, the reflection of this glacial foot is almost as clear as the foot itself.

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