||64°56.0 S 63°39.9 W
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This morning, after picking up the campers at 6am, we are heading north toward the so-called Paradise Bay. As we arrived in front of the Chilean Videla station, like every day, the passengers are spread into the 3 activities: kayaking, mountaineering and photoshop. All the remaining guests invited to go ashore and to visit this station at the entrance of the Paradise Bay.
2 buildings are free for visit: a small museum, where the Chileans sell some little gifts and souvenirs, and the main building. The kindness and the welcome of the 15 guys here are so amazing. We can either climb up in the observatory from which we have a wonderful view of the surroundings, either visit, their main lounge, where they offer us coffee, tea, and some cookies. The place is warm, very cute and cocooning, with a huge sofa, and everyone has the opportunity to share their life for a little while. The Christmas tree is ready for these guys who will spend 4 month far from their family. Everybody agrees to point the kindness with which they are receiving us. Out of the buildings, the penguins are everywhere and we can have a very close encounter, all along the paths less than 2 meters with these locals guys!
All the morning is dedicated on the visit of this place, the different group activities swapping every hour, in order for everybody, to have the opportunity to come ashore and to enjoy this very warm and peaceful place Lunch is served while we are repositioning, ready for the action at another Argentinean station, Brown station. The same turnover is applied for giving every signing up passenger the opportunity to experience kayaking, mountaineering, or a zodiac cruise.
We disembark all the zodiaques in front of the buildings. Zet take in charge the kayakers, while Martin and Richard, wait for the first mountaineers at the top of the first gentle slope. For the other regular disembarkers, Lucas offer them to reach him at the summit of the station from which the point of view on the whole paradise bay, is incredible! From it, the Ortelius looks so small in the center of this huge bay, surrounded, like everywhere here, by glaciers, huge seracs and ice falls. The traditional daily briefing occurs as soon as all the guest are back onboard and the plans for tomorrow sound again very exciting before going for dinner.
Morning - On Mount Hoegh from Duthiers Point 18 Guests, 2 Guides and an fine alpine leader
The objective was the glacier ridge descending from Mount Hoegh. The group landed south of the point at the bottom of a steep slope as the point was occupied by many Gentoo penguins. On arrival two crab-eater seals swam past. As we geared up 20 gentoo penguins looked on. We ascended the steep icy slope and on the broad ridge we arranged the ropes for glacier travel. The snowpack soon softened with blue skies and sunshine. The group ascended to 300 metres to a small rock outcrop below the summit of Mount Hoegh. There were stunning views into Andvord Bay to the North. On the descent one of the party took out a pair of Big Foot short skis and put in some fine linked ski turns on the slope down to our landing point – much more graceful than our snowshoes! Just offshore we watched at last piece break from an iceberg and the rolling of the berg in the water to regain equilibrium.
Afternoon - Afternoon Ice cap above Station Almirante Brown
Group 1, 18 Guests, 2 Guides. Group 2, 14 Guests, 2 Guides.
The party ascended the peak behind the station with views into Paradise Harbour, Then roped up in 3 teams to travel around the icecap behind. There were impressive views into Skontorp Cove where the Avalanche Glacier regularly carves large seraks into the sea. The sky became overcast offering a variety of grey and white shades to the view of Paradise Harbour, and a cold breeze was a rare event.
Morning kayak has it all. Penguins, icebergs, Weddell seal and a 2 crab-eater seal. Afternoon kayak at Brown bluff was great with the huge cliff next to the Argentine station with all the nesting birds and the impressive glacier front
Camping: Leith Cove
Entering Leith Cove with heavily crevassed glaciers that filled up the water. We had a beautiful but, slow entrance to our Island, Islote Hanka. With Gentoo penguins awaiting us at the landing site we had a great start of our camping night. Without the wind the reflections of the mountains surrounding Paradise bay were absolutely amazing. We were accompanied by Antarctic terns that made is clear when we got to close to their nest. We again had an early pick up time that made it possibly to get to Portal Point way up north on the Antarctic peninsula.