Friday, April 17, 2020

Photo Friday: Antarctica #3

Glacier Walking and More Penguins!

Gratuitous penguin to start the post
Our second day in Antarctica, and we are finally going to set foot on it! Many of our shipmates had done so the previous day, while we were kayaking, but Dave and I hadn't yet been off the water. And we were going to start right off with a glacier walk, the longest shore excursion on offer (which mostly filled me with regret that I'd had coffee with breakfast, as one is to leave nothing, and they mean nothing, on shore. Nor is a pee bottle much help when you are in the middle of a rope team).

It didn't seem completely certain the night before that we'd be able to do this. While we cruised through the night (more or less in circles, as it turned out), the weather had been... imperfect.
Yep. That's snow in the beam of the bridge searchlight.
Despite the snowy night, the morning was beautiful. Since we needed the most time for our outing we were the first to leave the ship. Looking back from across the bay it appeared very small!

We disembarked on a little rock ledge below the glacier, where we could leave our life vests and pick up our snowshoes.
Okay, this was actually us waiting to get picked up. Same idea, though.

Eventually we were all ready: snowshoes (the spiked variety) on, a little practice walking in them, and roped up and ready to go.
I was next to last in the second rope of 6.
We started up a fairly steep snow/ice slope, with little idea what was beyond. I was pretty impressed when we topped out!
Our rope leader, giving instructions for crossing crevasses.
The snow looked innocuous, which is why we had expert leaders--because they knew there were crevasses around, and knew how to spot them, even when covered, or mostly covered, with snow. With their guidance we moved safely over the ice and out until we really did have a feel for being in the wilds of Antarctica!
Big land, little people.

 We had the pleasure of just poking around and taking in the scene some.

Looking across Port Lockroy (a research station, closed for the season) and Damoy Point (our afternoon landing is on the other side of that), to some really big peaks that I'm sure have names.

We enjoyed the fantastic weather, but the memory of the snow in the night kept me looking around. In the Antarctic, a change in the weather is always lurking about.

Back to the ship for lunch, then we were out again for a landing among the penguins, and an historic station. You can see why we all wore our ship-provided tall muck-boots every time!
Coming ashore. Note the greeter, far left :)

The first thing I did was to check out the buildings. Since even the summers there (the only time such a station would have been manned) are pretty cold, it didn't seem terribly adequate, but way better than the earliest explorers had! This was used from 1974 until about 1994, as a stop for supply flights to research stations farther south. Note the huge urn atop the barrel stove--that would be for melting snow to make drinking water.
I think it is actually stocked so it can be used in case of emergency.
 Then I went and enjoyed the penguins :)

Not mange, just the molting season! You can see the smooth adult feathers starting to show.
This one was pretty far through the molt, but still not ready for the water.
Note the fluffy bits on the head and neck.
"Whatchu lookin' at? Like you never had a bad hair day?"

I managed to be at the farthest possible spot when word came through to our leaders: the captain was ordering everyone back aboard, as the wind was picking up with dangerous gusts expected. I was in a good position to watch everyone stream back to the shore. The two buildings in the distance on the right are the old station, and the planes landed up on the ice on top of the ridge.
The pink snow is algae, not penguin poo, though the latter may help the former to grow.
I think he was racing to catch the last zodiac.

That's enough photos for today! Hope you enjoyed them, and see you next Friday for the next installment. My apologies to anyone who visited and found broken photo links. I have no idea what went wrong.


All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2020, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!


  1. Great storytelling! I'm enjoying the pictures as well.

    1. Thanks, Zeke! Since I normally am all about words, I do try to keep them to a minimum in these photo posts--just enough to tell the story, or some part of it. I failed to talk about the smell...

  2. It was an amazing thing I never thought I would get to do. I'm grateful we were able to--and even more grateful that we were able to get home with (comparatively) little struggle.

  3. These pictures are amazing. The pink snow is familiar from the Beartooths. It smells and tastes like watermelon but I’m not sure the penguin poo would be a desirable seasoning. I’m glad that you shared.

    1. Thanks, Echo! Yes, I think it's the same stuff that you find in snow everywhere, but the penguin-poo overlay was definitely off-putting!

  4. Hi Rebecca - looks to be amazing and what a special treat to experience the Antarctic ... those penguins look like us - just waiting to be let out into life again ... take care - those storms would be rough to say the least. All the best - Hilary

    1. The penguins were and are a total delight. They merely have to walk by and it's impossible not to smile!


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