Wakeup call was not easy for some of passengers this morning because of the amazing karaoke party we had yesterday evening.
At 8:30, the Argentine station Brown, made up of several orange structures, greeted us after a nice ship cruise through superb peninsula scenery of icebergs, glaciers and looming mountains. We were then split into two groups, with one going for a fascinating Zodiac cruise through brash ice and floating ice, getting a closer look at the glacier fronts in Skontorp Cove, while the other half shuttled over to Brown. The landing site was slippery rocks, but we managed to land safely and followed the paths that the Expedition Staff had marked for us. There were several options, one leading all the way up to the top of the hill behind the station, the other leading to the station itself. Both spots provided stunning views over the harbour, the ice, the Zodiacs, and towards Ortelius. At 10:00, we switched groups so that everybody was able to enjoy each activity.
After lunch, we reached Stony Point, a great place to try out the snowshoes.
When all of us were safely down again the bravest joined the polar plunge at the landing site. An incredible amount of passengers splashed about as much as the Gentoo Penguins in the -1˚C “warm” water, may be a record of participation in the history of Polar Plunge.
After a such intense day, we arrived back at the ship in time for our daily recap, in which Lynn outlined the anticipated process for tomorrow.
Happy passengers laughed and chattered in the bar late into the evening with everyone highly delighted at their experience of Antarctica.
Brown Station and Skontorp Cove
This was really a magical morning. Light snow had fallen overnight and continued to do so for the first half of the day. We had to brush snow off the kayaks before launching them. Skontorp Cove is always a favour-ite as it has steep cliffs rich in birdlife and we were entertained by the vivid screeches of the terns divebombing and harassing the much larger kelp gulls in the vicinity of their nesting sites. Further along we observed the streaks of verdigris in the rocks – a bright green stain associated with copper deposits – then around the corner into a bay of brash ice. Up closer to the glacier – but not too close we saw a small ice calving and heard some definite cracks within the glacier – but kept our distance remembering the Neko Harbour video clip. After a quick visit to Brown Station and the gentoos coming on and off the water, we paddled into some clear water, climbed back into the waiting Zodiacs and returned to the ship.
Stony Point is another of those sites where you can creep across from the landing site to some small islands on the other side of the strait. Here there were more penguins, in early season activity, greeting their mates, competing for nesting places and waiting for the snow to reveal more nesting opportunities. It was a fabulous afternoon with delicate clouds draping the mountains on Anvers Island.
Almirante Brown. Tim and Martin with 20 guests.
Our first day in Paradise Bay. Stunning views all-around of glaciers tumbling down and ice bergs calving into the water. We enjoyed a unique and simple landing on the concrete wharf at the Argentinean base. Guests geared up and set off up pristine snow towards the summit beckoning above. Normally an easy track, this early in the season we were climbing in snow shoes in the deep soft snow!
The summit itself was negotiated in small groups with steep drops all around. All the mountaineers stood on the lofty summit! We then roped up in three teams for a glacial journey overlooking Skonthorp Cove where we observed the calving seracs below.
Mt Hauron. Tim and Martin with 14 guests.
Low tide and the presence of sea ice forced a landing on a small island off the coast. We were able to portage our kit along the boulder beach past a sleeping Weddell seal to a wading point to get onto the Main-land. We geared up into three roped parties and travelled on snow shoes in the soft snow. We climbed, zig zagging up the steepening slopes which offered great views into Paradise Bay. Deteriorating weather and fresh snowfall with steep soft snow and crevasses caused the parties to descend again back to the shore.
Camping Stoney Point
With the winds calm the team was able to make camp at Stoney Point. The evening started with some clouds but after working on the camp spots, the clouds broke and the evening presented them with beautiful views and landscapes. As everyone started winding down and the camp grew quiet, two penguins confidently hopped up on shore to inspect our camp. They seemed happy to share their spot with us. As we watched the Ortelius sail out of view, this gave the sensation of being completely disconnected from the world. The team fell asleep with a true feeling of self-sufficiency, alone in this pristine environment.