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Expedition Blog

2041 was founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change.

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Departing Punta Arenas

This is the final update from Rob & the rest of the IAE 80 South team before they drop off the map.

Keep posted via our Facebook and here on our expedition blog. Communications from the Antarctic are limited to voice and perhaps some still photos. Keep posted here & our website for updates from the last great wilderness, Antarctica. Forwards as Ever. #climateforce

Listen below to Rob's phone message from Punta Arenas, Chile. Watch the video here.

 

 

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IAE 80° South Intro & Arrival to Punta Arenas

On November 15th 2017 Robert and Barney Swan will undertake a 600 mile walk to the South Pole ONLY surviving on renewable energy, this has never been attempted. The expedition is called the ‘South Pole Energy Challenge’- its purpose is to inspire people to change their energy consumption to being more renewable. To test this renewable energy the IAE 80 South team have gathered at the bottom of Patagonia, Punta Arenas, Chile. 

On Dec 4th, we head to Union Glacier Base Camp  600 miles from the South Pole. We are returning on December 12th. The purpose of IAE 80 is to test these renewable energies in the harsh conditions of mainland Antarctic. 

Our 14 person team have all arrived safe in Chile, check back for their full bios:

  •  Keith Sauls-                                    USA. Renewable Energy Finance 
  •  Ameera Al Haranki-                         UAE. Expo 2020 Youth
  •  Mark Leisher-                                 USA. Videographer
  •  Peter Tonkes-                                  Australian. Technical Coordinator
  •  Ciara Doyle-                                   Ireland/UK. Siemens Power Generation Services
  •  Declan Flanagan-                            Ireland. Lincoln Clean Energy
  •  Vivek Makhja-                                UK/India. Shell Biofuels 
  •  Saeed Alnuamin-                           UAE.  Expo 2020 Youth
  •  Charulata Somal-                           India. Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officer
  •  Carolina Sandretto-                         Italy. Photographer 
  •  Wendy Gediman-                           USA/UK. Middle School Teacher 
  •  Edward Balaban-                             USA/Russia. NASA Scientist 
  •  Robert Swan-                                  UK. Expedition Leader 
  •  Barney Swan-                                   Australian/ UK. Logistics and Media

 

The technology which will be tested includes-

  1. Ice melting System from NASA which is Solar Direct to the Ice melting Chamber.
  2. Cutting Edge Solar Thermal Ice melter from Zero Mass Water.
  3. Wind Generator System supported by Siemens, Calon Energy & Leading Edge Power. 
  4. Ice Melting System from ABC Power.
  5. Batteries and Solar Panels from Goal Zero.
  6. Specialized Biofuels from Shell 

 

We are going to be dropping off the map on the 4th of December. Communications from the Antarctic are limited to voice and perhaps some still photos. 

Part of our test expedition is to see how we can improve communications for next year for ‘South Pole Energy Challenge’.

Updates will be available on Facebook.

We encourage you to share the messages so we can spread the news, please use #ClimateForce for any content related to the project. Thanks for your support.

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Final day in Antarctica on IAE 2016!


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Our final day in Antarctica but our team was not perturbed, ready to take it in as much as possible we made way towards our favourite landing spot, Neko Harbour. Once again woken by an announcement from Jumper, but this time much earlier than usual, it was still dark outside. He said the view was like an oil painting, a great day in Antarctica, a sunrise not to miss. Slowly but surely almost everyone made it out on deck and it was certainly worth it. The colours where like nothing anyone had seen before, the sky was ablaze with orange and pink light, perfectly reflected in the still waters of the bay, the illusion only broken by the occasional piece of ice floating into view, somehow maintaining it’s blue hues amongst all this red light.

Because we needed time later to subject our team to the daunting polar plunge, we only had the morning to enjoy Neko, the team was again split between zodiac cruising and being on shore. Everyone got the chance to hike up to meditation rock where we handed out postcards for people to write to their future selves, reminding them of what they learnt in Antarctica.

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Before we set sail back into the Drake, it was time for the Polar Plunge, for those crazy enough, they could jump off of the gangways into the freezing Antarctic waters, many did and with such style!

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Once everyone had recovered from the plunge we had a leaving ceremony, thanking Antarctica, the Ship’s captain and crew and of course Robert Swan and the 2041 Foundation, now we head back into the Drake Passage and can reflect on this incredible experience.

“My name is Isabel Grey. I am 11 years old and born in Charleston SC. I have cared about the environment and it’s creatures deeply since I was young. At age 7 I became vegetarian and at 9 I became a vegan all because of my respect towards animals. My polar journey started as I watched Robert Swan give his speech at an outdoor shop called Halfmoon Outfitter. I was so inspired that at the end, I talked to him and developed the idea of going on the expedition. He invited me to go and few days later I was playing violin on King Street. I hope to raise awareness about what we are going wrong and ways that we can help make change. 

What a special day we all had at Neko Harbor. The sunrise was spectacular; you begin to appreciate these moments because the Antarctic weather has a mind of its own. A long walk up to meditation point where team members wrote “postcards from the edge” to themselves that will be mailed to them in six months, which will serve as a great reminder to all the Team to make sure ACTION is happening around them. 

You could here the ice carving around the bay, much like thunder.

Tradition has it that the final day on the continent, means Polar Plunge time. With a great deal of excitement and with the help of Taylor Swift in the background to muster that extra bit of courage, team members one by one jumped off the ship into the icy water. Some people managed to talk to their GoPros, but for most the reactions was total shock. It is not every day that you go for a swim in Antarctica. 

A formal naval thank you, over seen by Jumper was performed on the bow by the whole team, and we all saluted the captain of the Ocean Endeavor. 

We set sail for Ushuaia, with the swell and winds picking up for a rocky night.”

Isabel Grey, 11, USA

A key part of our expeditions is the experiential learning and focussing on bringing people that can share their story and inspire even more people, because of this we love to have teachers come and join IAE, we asked one of the many with this year for their ideas on how their time in Antarctica will shape what they teach in their own classrooms.

“Inspired. Driven. Passionate.

These three words sum up just a fraction of how I am now and how I will be in the near future. In order to be real and to have relevance to those who have not experienced the Antarctic as I have, I will take back this message with passion and be inspiring to others.

I need to engage young people in the ongoing battle to change the balance of sustainability, to help them understand that they are the pivotal generation. The generation that has full understanding of the problem, and the ability to contain it with the technological advances that are coming through. Older generations had neither the knowledge or power, and in future generations the damage will be too great to remedy.

To do this I will speak to schools and colleges in my locality and make it relevant to them, and leave them with a challenge. It is important to have a ‘hook’ for the children to hang on to, and to complete, so that I can come back to look at how they have achieved. 

We must endeavour to make this part of their current language, not a novelty, or a fad that will come and go. It must be developed as part of the lexicon of the next generation and become embedded in their thought processes as a norm in their lives.

Presentations, assemblies and the like will be important but not as crucial as building a structure for schools to follow through with, to make policy and to continue this drive to change the culture of schools, ensuring that the whole sustainability subject is built into the curriculum and becomes part of everyday life.” - Tobin

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The day ended with Robert revealing his plans for the future of the 2041 Foundation with the South Pole Energy Challenge, things are gearing up!


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Antarctica Day 5 - Penguins on Petermann Island

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Another incredible sunset. Golden light flickered over icebergs on the horizon as if lit by candle. Everyone wass out to watch, leaving little time for breakfast. Some had to eat faster than others, the call for the zodiacs had been made. Half of our team headed out to Petermann Island, a low lying island surrounded by impossibly blue icebergs and home to a historic Argentine refuge hut, but it seemed like the weather was closing in again, time we had to move quickly and hope for the best.

The other half of the team got into their zodiacs to cruise around the bay, a lot whales had been spotted headed towards us, it was fortuitous timing!

“1…2…3...4...5...6! 6 ballenas Humpback juntas! Todo el equipo estábamos muy emocionados, pero fue hasta que vimos que Tara, nuestra guía por el día, estaba sorprendida que supimos que estábamos siendo testigos de algo realmente especial.

La familia de 6 nos dejó seguirlas, y en 10 minutos pudimos ver 3 rondas de "hundimientos"...18 colas en total.

En esta expedición hemos visto ballenas ballenas Humpback, Minke, Fin e incluso Orcas, pero cada vez que vemos una nueva todos nos seguimos impresionando con la belleza de estos imponentes animales. Cuando pensamos que las ballenas son solo una pequeña parte de los increíbles días que hemos tenido aquí volvemos a apreciar el enorme privilegio que tenemos de estar pasando estas semanas en la Antarctica

No puedo esperar por saber qué sorpresas nos tiene preparadas Antarctica para mañana”

“1…2…3…4...5...6! 6 Humpback whales together! All of my team was really excited, but it wasn't until we saw how surprised Tara (our guide for the day) was that we realised that we were witnessing something really special.

The “family” of 6 allowed us to follow them for a while, and in only 10 minutes we were able to see 3 rounds of diving…18 tails in total!

In this expedition we have seen Humpback, Minke, Fin and even Orca whales, but every time we see a new one we still get impressed by the beauty of these incredible animals. When we realise that whales are only a small part of the amazing days we've had so far we appreciate again the immense privilege that is spending a couple of weeks in Antarctica.

I cant wait to see what surprises Antarctica has in store for tomorrow.”

Eitan Rovero-Shein,

Mexico City, 25

On Petermann we had another chance to get up close and personal with penguins, today they seemed to be even more inquisitive about us humans, if we stood still, they would come up close and check us out but mostly to use us as a shelter from the wind.


It had been a day to encompass all of our senses;

We see the morning light,
through the darkened snow clouds
doing its best to fight
hitting icebergs floating in crowds.

Painting our snow-based view
as penguins chatter in their paces,

with another golden hue,
As the icy wind hits our faces.


Every day we say ‘this feels more Antarctic than the day before’, but what we’re learning is that Antarctic is diverse, not a white wasteland to exploit, but a homely land to many creatures that just aren’t us.

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Our second excursion of the day was really very special, we travelled back through the Lemaire Channel, but this time in the zodiacs, having been in awe of it just a day before from our ship, being inside this channel and seeing it all with the ship also in our view really gave us a better sense of perspective, the scale of it all was nearly daunting, realising how tall the mountains really are, and how tall the glacier faces are. We travelled through passing icebergs and amazing formations on glaciers, getting closer than we ever had before.

We closed the day with a talk from team member Edward who outlined a his work at NASA Ames, CA and set sail for our last stop on the Antarctic Peninsula, Neko Harbour, our favourite place to visit on IAE which we hope will be an amazing conclusion for everyone.

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Antarctica Day 4 - The Snow Storm


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0630. Lemaire Channel. Antarctica

Another wake up call from Jumper, we had to get up to see the most amazing view to wake up to, a favourite place in Antarctica for many, the Lemaire Channel. It is a created by Booth Island’s peaks and Humphries Heights mountain range making a corridor, this small body of water is like a trough with the mountains rising suddenly out of the ocean on either side, sometimes at near vertical in angle and up to a kilometre in height, the 5 mile long channel is sheltered and plays haven to minke whales, humpbacks and penguins. A truly dramatic view that encompasses many of Antarctica’s features, starkly beautiful landscapes, wildlife and, of course ice.

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After passing through for sunrise, the snowstorm only got heavier and soon our view of Pleneau disappeared into a cloud of greys. This weather meant another change of plans, with conditions too harsh for zodiacs to be deployed the team welcomed the time to rest before venturing out into the cold once more.

With announcements made over the tannoy, it was time for action, we weren’t going to let the weather get in the way, we would land at Charcot Point and cruise around the icebergs, facing the conditions head on and challenge ourselves. The experience was amazing, being pelted in the face by snow and ice did not perturb our amazing international group, to think that some have travelled for the first time from home, left the desert or not even seen snow before, now to really be in the thick of it was really something special and of course when they reached the top off the hike, it was only natural for everyone to enjoy the snow as much as possible and they had earned it!

The zodiac cruise was also a challenge, whilst witnessing natural beauty up close, sitting still on the water is a different kind of cold. We could get much closer than usual to the icebergs because they are all grounded, the bay is a shallower shelf to about 100m in depth where drifting icebergs get trapped. Knowing they are still, we can get closer because the chance of them suddenly rolling and either crushing anything near it or causing a sudden wave that could easily flip a zodiac is far lower. In a way the weather was fortunate, the new snowfall clung to the icebergs and it’s pure white tones only accentuated their stunning form and hues.

With everyone defrosting on the ship after a thorough exposure to Antarctica’s cold-hearted ways, one of our own team members, Ben Towill delivered a presentation on food, and the sustainability issues involved in its current mass production. This predominantly focussed on waste of food itself and wastefulness in its production; reminding us of our current ship-based life and the finite resources available to us here in the Antarctic, a lesson we can all take home to our daily lives when we return to the ‘real’ world.

“I almost didn’t wake up this morning. My pillow was soft, blanket was warm, and I was having a lovely dream about skipping through a field of wildflowers. By some miracle managed to ignore six of Jumper’s announcements, which were getting progressively louder and more aggressive, until finally he nearly screamed, “THIS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT VIEW YOU’LL GET IN ANTARCTICA. IF YOU’RE INSIDE, YOU’RE ON THE WRONG SIDE.”
I pulled on my fleece pants and ran out on the bow, brushing snow out of my half-closed eyes. The view that greeted me made me stop in my tracks. The ship floated through a narrow channel, shrouded in mist, with mountains of ice and rock looming on all sides. The water was like glass, interrupted only by ripples from the icebergs and snowflakes. I felt that I was on a different planet—that during my sleep the ship had sailed through a wardrobe and entered Narnia. As though on cue, a group of five humpback whales appeared, not twenty meters from our port side. And that was only the first half hour.

We got the morning off, save for the 90 minutes we got to come up with a pitch to change the world. After lunch it was back to business. Robert made an appearance in the mud room to facilitate our timely departure in the zodiacs. I exited the ship into the same mystical land I saw in the morning. Icebergs in the ocean were barely distinguishable from the snow on the mountains, which was barely distinguishable from the grey sky. We got two hours to frolic on the mountain with hundreds of penguins (maintaining the required five meter distance at all times) and observe a few fur seals sparring. A few teams decided to take the example of the seals and began a snowball fight that turned into an hour-long affair with extensive ambushing and tackling. The same group that was a few hours earlier presenting a three-pronged approach to improve water conditions in rural India was now chanting war cries and sprinting up the mountain.

Needless to say we were all breathless and full of joy when it came time to board the zodiacs again. This time we got to cruise through the Iceberg Graveyard—an area where icebergs run aground and are thus uncharacteristically stationary. This allows for the most stunning shapes, as wind and water form caves and magnificent icicles. Staring at the layers of blue, white, and grey I wondered how many years it took to smooth the ragged glacial edges, and how many years would pass before it would melt completely. It’s up to us, isn’t it?”

Sasha Landauer, USA, 19

“今天的探险旅程让我感受到自然赋予南极的力量,风雪与海浪让我们置身于神秘而浩瀚的大洋,冰山和峡谷让我们发现大自然的鬼斧神工,企鹅和鲸鱼让我们知道珍惜世界上最纯净美丽的生命。攀登冰川需要团队的力量与温暖,头脑风暴需要大家的智慧和合作,展示与演讲激励我们改变世界的愿望。今天,当一只三个月大的企鹅向我走来时,我想说,2041EXPEDITION,让我们继续前进!"

Todays expedition let me feel the natural strength from the Antarctic. Purest snow and blue wave put ourselves into the mysterious ocean; amazing iceberg and Lemaire channel let me find the creativity power of nature; penguins and whales remind me to protect the most beautiful lives in the blue planet. Teamwork of hiking today gave me unity and warmth definitely; the brainstorming of leadership connected wisdom with cooperation; the presentation and speech inspired me to think about how to make a difference. When a baby penguin came to me straightly, at the most excited moment, I wanted to thank 2041 Expedition for encouraging all of us keep going, sincerely.”


Haizhou Wang, China, 24 

With our ship anchored in Pleneau, our ship's crew pointed spotlights at the nearest icebergs, just to make sure they didn't drift towards us. This lead to a usually panic-inducing view but for us, knowing everything was under control it was just spectacular. 

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Expedition Video Update : Extreme Orca Excitement!

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Antarctic Day 3 - Classrooms In The Cold

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Today was a day of exploring our icy classroom, with clear skies giving us a beautiful sunrise we arrived at Portal point; gateway to the polar plateau. An old route used by explorers and scientists for many years, would now play host to our team members learning some outdoor skills and getting to explore group exercises with our leadership speakers, Nigel and Matthias. All focussing on taking in this experience as much as possible, one of these sessions was simply to sit and stare at the amazing view we had of the Antarctic. Our first blazingly sunny day with visibility for miles, light danced off the water and made the icebergs glisten as they slowly drifted past. 

This silent scene only being disturbed by the melodic puffs of whale blows slowly gliding between the bergs.
Serenity.

Marina Orlovic, Croatia / USA
"Danas je bio suncan dan u Antartiku. Ne mogu vjerovati da vrijeme ovdje moze biti tako lijepo. Hodali smo po kontinentu i kasnije smo isli gledati kitove. Osjecam se da sam na nekom drugom planetu, daleko od civilizacije i svega sto je poznato. Ovo mjesto je neopisivo i stalno dava, hrani mi oci a pogotovo dusu. Predivno mjesto!"
"Today was a sunny day in Antarctica. I can’t believe the weather here can be so beautiful. We walked on the continent and later we went to watch whales. I feel like I’m on another planet, far away from civilisation and everything that is familiar. This place is indescribable and it is always giving, feeding my eyes and especially my soul. Gorgeous place!"


After our sessions on the ice we headed out in zodiacs to join the picturesque scene before us, we got to see the icebergs up close and their mystical blue glow enchanted us all. The bay was filled with sunbathing Crabeater Seals and Gentoo Penguins porpoising through the mirror-like water. Our luck wasn’t so strong however...the clouds started to cover the sun and the wind picked up. Luckily at the end of our time out on the water, once again reminded of natures unpredictability we started to make our way back to the ship.

We moved through the Gerlache Straight towards Dollman Bay, where we hoped to find some Humpback whales, as we passed through the straight murmurs spread around the ship of Orcas on the horizon, moving up to the bridge we could see a row of crew leaning against the counters, binoculers in hand, all hoping to spot the whales. With so many eyes on the mission it wasn't long until we knew where to put the boat to not disturb them and to get thebest few. The bow of the ship opened up and our team flooded down, changing from side to side of the ship as sightings were made.

It seemed we had caught the pod's attention, having passed some of the Orca they caught us back up. They swam under the bow of the ship in full few of our team members turned audience as the whales pirouetted together under the waves infront of our eyes

 

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A key part of the session where we focussed on absorbing  being in Antarctica, involved not having cameras as we stared out at the view. We wanted to focus on really seeing and feeling a place, not looking at everything through a camera lens, our brilliant team member Jean Li took the opportunity to sketch her view and add it to her collection of drawings from throughout the trip, an amazing talent and beautiful way of capturing her time here in the Antarctic.

 
"Sketching has always been a way for me to relieve stress and become absorbed in something entirely independent from others. The day my flight left for Ushuaia from JFK airport in New York, I did not expect to find myself in sub-freezing temperatures with a sketchbook in hand on the least travelled continent on earth. But there I was in the airport buying myself a new notebook to take on my travels with me. Fast forward a couple of days, I’ve been drawing constantly ever since we landed on Deception Island, busying myself with outlines of Antarctic wildlife, landscapes, and ice formations. Anyone who thinks this sounds lovely is quite right, but I’ve wondered if using my raw hands to draw something is really worth the crazy amount of moisturising I must do afterwards. But in a place like Antartica where everyone is trying to capture their memories somehow, my notebook has become an extremely personal place for me not only record what I see, but share with others an experience we will never forget in a highly original way." 

Jean Li, USA, 17

Tomorrow we head to Pleneau and Port Charcot to explore the Iceberg Alleyway. As we make our way there a snowstorm has hit us and visibility has gone from seemingly infinite to just a few hundred meters if that, we’re grateful to be on such a substantial ship that can look after us and keep us sheltered during these more unfriendly conditions!

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Antarctic Day 2 - Exploring Brown Bluff Glacier

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Friday, March 18th.

Our first landing on the Antarctic Continent came at 8am on the majestic Brown’s Bluff.

Another volcanic landscape, home to seals, penguins and glaciers. On the tip of the continent we got to see how this vibrant, dramatic landscape was also a comfortable home to so many species.

Team members were in high spirits, excited to explore and climbed a spectacular glacier and were met at the top by Jason and the 2041 Team to learn about and how to navigate crevasses. There was a light breeze and temperatures hovered around -1
°C.

Half the team was ashore ascending the glacier, riddled with small holes where volcanic rock had melted down through the glacier itself, the other half of our team were out in Zodiacs spotting Leopard Seals and Humpback Whales!

Suddenly everything changed. An impossibly strong wind rushed down the icy pathways and hit the ocean, people were nearly swept off of their feet and equipment was sent hurtling to the ground. Looking down hill towards the ocean, the blue sky had turned grey and the sea was now dark and inky, waves getting higher and smashing into each other, their own sprays being carried off into the distance by this new forceful gale.

Within 10 minutes the gusts had changed from a reasonable breeze to a full 40 knots, Antarctica had firmly reminded us who was in charge and that we were here on her terms.

The winds made their way down the glacier and across the water whipping up the seas and making for a turbulent, cold and very wet journey back to the ship. It was deemed too choppy for operations to continue and with a large sheet of sea ice headed towards our ship the captain masterfully repositioned the vessel and the zodiacs took shelter behind the iceberg from the threatening waves.


Through skilled negotiating of the rough sea we all safely made it back to the ship and quickly changed from our soaked clothing to warm back up.

Once the team were dried and rested; the sea salt marks now emblazoned on our jackets like battles scars from surviving a fight with the Antarctic sea, everyone was called to the top deck.


We were now gliding through the Antarctic Sound, breathtaking gargantuan tabular icebergs were to our portside, so many were grounded here, their harsh edges creating icy corridors in a maze like fashion, so inviting to venture down but incredibly dangerous. These tabulars where another reminder of our purpose here. They had broken off from an ice-shelf, a worrying sign of climate change with disastrous consequences. Gazing our from the top deck of our ship we were in awe of these cubic forms, strange to see something natural have such a straight edge.

Another fantastic day in an incredible place, we are thrilled to have such a fantastic team that are willing to put up with whatever Antarctica has to throw at them!

Next stop, Portal Point!


Bottom Photo after text smallPhoto credit: Arjun Menon, India

"I haven’t really come across too many images of icebergs under the night sky.

I was intrigued on how they might turn up. Antarctica has some of the clearest skies and all the elements came together. I got lucky with this one."

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Expedition Video Update! : Exploring Antarctica's Dark Past

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First steps in Antarctica - Deception Island

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Finally our first landing in Antarctica! The team's excitement was somewhat subdued by our early start as Jumper invited us to get outside before the sun had even risen so that we could witness the ship entering what previously seemed like an island, through a tiny gap in the rocks, a new body of water was revealed. As we passed through these walls of rock, team members gazed up at the cliffs, down at the sea and ahead to try see just where this might be leading us. 

Port Forster, the island’s flooded caldera, is entered through Neptune’s Bellows. A volcanic crater whose walls have been breached by the sea. On the port side of the entrance are the beached remains of the Southern Hunter, a whale catcher wrecked in 1957 after it hit Raven Rock, the reef that is Neptune’s Bellows’ volcanic plug. The Island was discovered during the 1819/20 summer by William Smith aboard the HSM Andromanche. 

We first landed at Telefon Bay, a scarce landscape made of ash and snow, the most recent eruption was in 1970, everyone hiked around this stunning landscape, thrilled to finally be off the ship, in the Antarctic and for some, the first time seeing snow. Lucky to have close encounters with many wildlife like Gentoo Penguins and a napping Weddell Seal and of course the territoral fur seals. All of which we were cautious to give plenty of space and respsect, being midnful that we are visitors in their land.

It was fantastic to see everyone making sure they put down their camera and took in the view. Taking just a moment to really see where they were, many meditated on the work it took them to get to this incredible point in all of our lives, even though we had harsh weather in this incredibly desolate location, it felt right and everyone was feeling good, excited to see as much as possible.

We were lucky to make a second landing on Deception Island. At Whalers Bay. 
Whaling began in 1906, first with the norwegian Andresen and his floating factory ship, Gobermador Bories. The following season he was joined by two other Norwegians and a Newfoundland whaling company, all of which operated factory ships. The peak production year at Whaler’s Bay was 1912-13. 5000 whales were killed and processed, there were 12 factory ships, 27 whale catchers and 200 whalers based on the Island. 

Getting to see these buildings still here in the Antarctic, in complete disrepair, is a chilling reminder of what dark things we humans are able to do to the natural world around us. As we travel south along the Antarctic Peninsula, we will visit locations that are more pristine and untouched, but having seen these scars left by our predecessors, the mindset will truly be about the protection and preservation of the Antarctic.

Guest Blogger - Josselin Cornou, France

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Josselin Cornou, photographs and words.

"Un passage vers la fin du monde. Notre bateau arriva doucement - mais serrement - sur l’ile de la déception, l’un des volcans les plus distants de notre civilisation. De mémoire d’homme, je ne me rappelle pas avoir vu telle beauté, et dureté dans un monde de désolation.

Cette ile cache désolation, changement, désir, mouvement de la vie dans un monde changeant continuellement. Cet habitat n’était - il n’y a pas si longtemps, utilisé argument dans l’exploitation de plusieurs espèces de baleines.

La nature a rapidement repris le dessus, a dument travaillait à effacer les traces du passé. Les otaries sont de retour, et partagent leur environnement avec leurs homologues, les pingouins. 

Ma plus surprenante surprise ? Ces animaux non n’en rien à faire de nous. Ils nous contemplent, ils sont curieux, il semble intéressé. Cette expérience était magique et surprenante, m’amenant à me poser beaucoup de questions sur l’humanité : Sommes-nous une peste ? Pourquoi n’avons-nous pas de similaire expérience dans nos continents respectifs ?"


"A journey along the edge of the world.
Our ship arrived slowly but surely to deception island, one of the most remote volcanos in the world. I can’t recall seeing such a unique place for a long time. 

This place is not only about landscape, it’s also about delusion, change, hope, continuation of life in a moving world. 

The place was once used by the whale industry. Clues of this dark past can be found anywhere on the island.


Since then, nature progressively took back this place. Ash is slowly covering the not so ancient remains of this industry. Seals and Penguin - citizens of this lost land - are back in force.  

My biggest surprise? I found it surreal to walk next to those wild animals. They are not used to humans, and we are no threat to them. We walk, and yet those species show no interest, no fear - just curiosity and interest toward this unknown human species.

It was magical, and this reflected deeply on myself for the rest of the day. Are we a pest? What did we do so bad to be feared by most species in human occupied land? "


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Video Update : First Iceberg!

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First Icebergs - Land Ahoy!

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Misty morning on the Drake.
Rain patters the windows as we press on. The team had been challenged to spot the first iceberg, but this low visibility changed the stakes. Now in Antarctic waters the cold wind batters anyone that dares go out on deck, but the prospect of whales, icebergs and even land are too tempting, our intrepid team members remain strong and look out into the grey expanse, the ship still making good progress towards Antarctica, riding the waves through the fog unaware of what could be surrounding us.



Just before midday the call was made, ICEBERG!



There was no hesitation; everyone was out on deck, but it had already passed by and been swallowed by the cloud. Now just a ghostly figure quickly fading as we drift away. However, our luck was in. More soon came, thick, fast and close. Huge twisted forms of ice. Their many layers and markings revealing their age, giants drifting alone across the deep dark sea. The eeriness wasn’t enough to deter our team, excitement was spreading like electricity as sentiments of being welcomed to Antarctica were shared around, we had made it, although we can’t see much, these signs are enough to fill everyones faces with smiles.



One of our youngest team members, Raf, 11 years old, shares his first impressions;



“It was a really exciting moment, it was really big, the first one was really big, bigger than a bus, it was like a giant marshmallow. The wind was really harsh but it was worth it to see the iceberg, I never thought I’d get to visit Antarctica, it’s kind of like a really big thing, it’s a once in a life time opportunity!
Soon I’m going to be helping another team member, Laura figure out the wind speeds of Antarctica”
(Laura Schetter is an environmental studies coordinator and Trained GLOBE teacher who is collecting observations about water and atmosphere for the GLOBE Program.)




This experience left an imprint on everyone in very different ways, from excitement to epiphany.

For most that visit Antarctica, the first iceberg is a white speck on the horizon, but today due to the seemingly unfriendly weather, we gained this very intimate first view of these mesmerising sculptures.



Quang Nu Tuong Nhan, 30, Vietnam.



"Tôi cảm thấy mỗi tảng băng là một sinh vật sống với tính cách khác nhau. Một số hiền hoà và thân thiện. Một số khác thì tỏ vẻ giận dữ và bị làm phiền. Điều đó làm tôi cảm thấy mình là một kẻ xâm nhập không được chào đón. Cảm giác đó hơi đáng sợ. Hy vọng chúng tôi sẽ là những vị khách biết điều.  Mặc khác, tôi cảm thấy thực tự hào chúng tôi đã vượt qua eo biển Drake như những nhà thám hiểm đi trước. Rõ ràng con người luôn sẵn sàng vượt qua những thử thách to lớn. Liệu lần này loài người có vượt qua thử thách về thay đổi khí hậu? Liệu chúng ta có thể học được cách chung sống hài hoà với Đất Mẹ trước khi bà hủy diệt chúng ta?"

"When I look at the ice bergs, they all look like living creatures with their own characters. Some are nice and calm while the others look grumpy and angry. They make me feel like being intruder to the land where I don't belong. And it feels intimidating and unsettling. I hope we will be pleasant guests.  On the other hand, I feel extremely proud that we passed the Drake passage- one of the roughest water in the world like all adventurers before us.  Clearly, human has never shied away from great task.  It gets me thinking if we can solve the challenge of climate change this time. Will we figure out the way to interact respectfully with Mother Nature before she destroys us all?"
 


The day was concluded with more fantastic talks from our leadership speakers, Matthias and Nigel, followed by an important ropes and knots sessions with Jason Flesher, our Lead Expedition Guide. Preparing the team members for their time on the ice, now only a day away. Land now on the horizon, we have passed through the South Shetland Islands towards Deception Island. The volcanic land where ash and snowmix together creating a world forged by fire and ice, plagued with an unfortunate history of human exploitation. Tomorrow we will land and learn lessons from this amazing place and it's dark past.

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Surrounded by Ocean - Cross the Drake Passage!

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Day 1 at sea.
After entering the Drake Passage in the middle of the night we woke up this morning to be surrounded by ocean, no land in sight.

Graced by calm conditions so far with swells of around 4 metres, the team attended lectures on Glaciology, the history of Antarctica and penguins, as well as heading out on deck to try and spot whales, a few of their air blows were even sighted on the horizon, now we have water, wind and whales, all we need is ice.

Some inspirational words from our IAE Team Member Othman who has joined us from Kuwait


انا بحياتي ما كنت أدري عن مدى قوتي وتحملي. التجارب الي مريت فيها قوتني وعلمتني الصبر. واكثر شيء غير حياتي تجريبي مع أبوي. شفت العالم بمفهوم اخر.

الحياة ثمينة وما نحس في قيمتها الا لما تحوشنا صدمة. تعلمت أحب الحياة واستغل كل لحظه.

الواحد مهما كان صغير في الحجم ممكن انه يغير ويأثر في العالم. أبسط مثال الباخرة الي احنا فيها حجمها ولا شي بالنسبة للمحيط ولكن نرى أمواجها لمسفات طويلة.

حلو ان الواحد يتحدى نفسه ويواجه المصاعب ليتعلم اكثر.  الحياه  جمي


“I honestly did not know my own strength. Not too long ago… my father was diagnosed with leukemia. It was hard to say the least but I had the privilege of looking after him in the hospital for over a year. The experience I have been through made me who I am today. It opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life.

We often take life for granted. We all breathe yet only a few actually live. I learned to cherish every second. I became stronger, wiser and more patient than ever.

As we cross the Drake Passage we still see the ripples miles away from our relatively small vessel in comparison to the massive ocean. Never underestimate our power to impact others.

The choices we make and risks we take shape us as individuals. I had to go out of my comfort zone when I decided to come on this expedition. Being away from the world standing on the deck looking out gives us a better perspective on where we stand.

Get out there challenge yourselves and believe its possible. We only get one chance at life so lets make it count! Share, listen, and learn always. Just remember everyday is a great day.”

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Most team members on board know Adrian "Jumper" Cross as the man who summons everyone in the morning with "wakey, wakey eggs and bakey!". But we sat down with our fearless expedition leader to learn more about how he got involved with 2041 and what he finds so magical about Antarctica.

He had a distinguished military record, and is a highly experienced, deep ocean sailor. He helped guide and facilitate, as a volunteer, the voyage of 2041. 220,000 nautical miles over 12 years and.

"He would appear as only jumper could, in really strange places unannounced to rescue the situation." - Robert Swan


JUMPER

What is your role on the expedition?


My role on the expedition is purely and simply, one thing and one thing only, get everyone down there and everyone back safe and sound and having had the most fantastic journey of their life.

What is your backround?


Born in Leicestershire, Ashby-De-La-Zouch, in a year I’m not willing to disclose.
I was educated in a small town school but due to limited opportunities at the age of 15 I decided to join the Royal Navy as an aircraft engineer. During that period I diversified into aircrew, worked on commando helicopters and specialized in training aircrew from all NATO forces in the Arctic on how to survive, as a part of mountain and arctic warfare cell, based in Bardufoss, in Northern Norway.

I had a spell as a 19 year old in the Falkland Islands, and sat on a beach one day looking south and said I’d go to the Antarctica, and it took me until I was 47 until I reached that goal.

I must have now spent a year on the ice counting all IAE’s together.

When did you first go with Rob?

First time was by yacht with Rob in 1997. Where we photographed the first 16 global warming indicator sites by yacht, and did some work on tidal counts.

You have a strong accent, some of the team members have asked what language you speak?

I speak Double Dutch, If anyone can understand my accent, they are very lucky, no one understands what I say, which is fine.

What is the most dangerous animal we will encounter?

Me!

Most of the animals in the Antarctic are not that dangerous, it is humans that are dangerous around the animals; most go about their own business and are not interested in what you’re doing.

We are in their world, we are the most dangerous animal down there, it’s their world.

We are in the middle of the Drake Passage, how many times have you made this crossing?


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve crossed the Drake, but with IAE I have done 25 trips, so that is 50 crossings, but I also spent some time in the 1970s, on a British ice patrol vessel in the area and the drake passage in particular, so I couldn’t tell you the exact figure to be honest.
It’s 550miles each way with IAE, so 25 time makes 27,500 miles in the Drake Passage.

What is your top safety tip?

1.If you’re standing still, you’re not going to get hurt, so if you listen to the professionals, before you move and act then life is perfectly safe.


What are your favorite locations in Antarctica

I have 2 favorite places in the Antarctic, Deception Island is one for some unknown reason; it is ice, volcanic, and still active, all the extremes of nature in one place, and I love it to bits. It has human involvement, historic importance for many reasons.

The next one is Paradise Bay, where I spent on a yacht several days, without any engine, no noise…total silence. I think Paradise is where in the middle of the summer season, to be sitting in a small rubber dinghy in the middle of paradise bay at 3am in the morning, is the first time in my life I learnt was silence was. There was no animal calls, not a breath, you could hear the blood pumping through your own veins, it the one place I’ve experienced total silence.

What is the biggest swell you have been in?

Today we’re experiencing a normal Drake Passage, on an old ship of ours, the Ushuaia, we were hit by a freak wave, it ripped a metal plate from the ship and moved it along the ship. That was the worst sea I’ve experienced in my life, was I scared, no, because I trusted the skipper, I trust the professionals around me, I have faith in the vessel and the quality of the people I work with. I wouldn’t be down here if I didn’t!

There are certain times in life where you know everything is perfect, the team, the ship, the crew the captain, it all comes together sometimes, and it’s important that you allow those people to do their jobs.

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Departure!

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Top Row - Matthias Malessa, Robert Swan, Nigel Paine Bottom Row - Chris Lambert, Don Kent, Xavier Riera-Palou


Today, after so much waiting; multiple years of it for some, we finally boarded the Ocean Endeavour, our new home for this incredible adventure. Before then we had the first series of lectures in Robert Swan’s “Leadership on the Edge” program, delivering a fantastic mixture of inspiration, environmental knowledge and Antarctic history.

Each speaker has a vastly different background and will continue to deliver their talks throughout the program as the expedition continues. We are very excited to have all of these highly accomplished individuals with us to help our team members develop in many areas. 


Matthias Malessa, founder of MMalessa Consulting and previously the chief human resources officer of the Adidas group. He will be focussing on Leadership and Inspiration

Nigel Paine, with his many years of experience in learning and development, promoting creativity and innovation will also be working with Team members on Leadership


Chris Lambert, a keen adventurist in Polar Regions, he is the current director of Westminster Energy. With his vast knowledge of climate policy and the Antarctic treaty, he will be helping
everyone develop their strategies for when they return home.

Xavier Riera-Palou is our Climate Change specialist, working at Royal Dutch Shell as their CO2 Strategy manager, he can provide great insight into the corporate perspective on climate change, and the very relevant business decisions and how they’re made.

Don Kent, an experienced grass-roots activist will focus on action, how to act on promises and commitments made during the expedition, difficulties that will arise, and methods to overcome them.

And of course Robert Swan, through his renowned stories from his adventures across the globe he will share the lessons he learnt on leadership and action, often the hard way.

Between these 6 speakers, we hope to end the expedition with our team members being fully inspired to lead, have a working knowledge of policy, government and business and be ready to take action towards creating measurable change. Inspiring others along the way.

Now we’ll hand over to two of our participants who have shared their experience of the day.

Ben Cullen Williams, 28 - London based Artist and Designer 

“Everyone was in one room after weeks of anticipation - the parts of the puzzle were beginning to clarify as the 2041 team took to the stage.  With all corners of the world represented, the cumulative effort of the congregation this far south crystalized - lets get sailing. 

As the team fought the wind on the march down the pier seeing the reality of the Antarctic was coming closer. The team photos with the boat as a backdrop were a unique moment of global flags, global faces, flattering hair, matching jumpers and photographers climbing up poles to get that perfect shot. The time to embark was here.”

—-


Avani Awasthee, 18 - Student at Flame University, Pune India 

“Today has been the most incredible day. All of us have been waiting for TODAY for the longest time. Its been 4 years and finally HERE I AM!!!

I am scared nervous, so happy, petrified - all mixed feelings. But that moment that the ship left, all of us on the deck together hooting and laughing, thats when I thought - It all comes down to this.  All those late nights, reading articles, raising funds, this is what I was waiting for. 

All kinds of people from different cultures and countries, 30 in total, it is such a pleasure to be here. To top it all off the thought of seeing the penguins, makes me so excited. 

All the speakers where so amazing and Rob speaking is always a pleasure listening to him. He had dinner at our table tonight and that is what made my day perfect. 

It’s so nice being here. I am desperately looking forward to tomorrow.”


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The ship left dock to an almighty cheer, emotions running high as so much work had finally paid off and the reality set in, we were headed south. Cruising out of the Beagle Channel, the team was all together on the top deck watching as Ushuaia faded into the background, the sun poking through a dramatic chorus of clouds. Our international team united, all here for the same reason.

Next stop Antarctica..

 

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Video Update : The Team Meets Robert Swan






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The Adventure Has Begun


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The adventure has begun.

Team members have arrived with tales of long journeys, sleepless nights and the occasional lost bag. However these minor hardships evaporated when the reality of arriving in the most southerly city in the world, Ushuaia, kicked in. We watched the storms come and go over the Beagle Channel, named after the ship HMS Beagle during Darwin's hydrographic survey of the coasts of the southern part of South America from 1826 to 1830.

Today was a day of welcoming team members and final preparation. Robert Swan was on hand to settle any nerves and for some, finally put a face to the name of the man who gathered this international group together with his infectious energy and determination.

The team settled in, stretching their legs on hikes in the mountains behind the city or doing last minute equipment shopping. 

The storms came and went as we gazed out over the Beagle, rain blowing horizontally one minute only to be replaced by rainbows moments later. gering beauty here, we can only imagine what awaits us as we venture South.

Tomorrow the "Leadership on the Edge" program begins.

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We're ready to begin - IAE Expedition Update

Preparations continue, anticipation builds, we’re ready for our teams arrival tomorrow and then it will all begin.

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The Beagle welcomed us to the day with a mesmerizing display of color, as the sunrise painted the newly snow covered mountains a brillaint gold amongst the purple haze.

A great introduction to dramatic landscapes, but nothing like what is yet to come... Make sure you follow this blog to see the stunning Antarctic landscapes and find out what our team gets up to on the ice as we explore the land of ice..

Stay tuned for more.

Here is a little taster from last year, just a small sample of what is still to come..

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Awaiting the Team


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Breaching through the clouds the water-way below us is revealed, it starts to look like it might be our landing strip as we continue to drop towards it. This is how the Beagle Channel reveals itself to us as we descend towards Ushuaia, finally landing at the airport, we have made it... 

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We are Getting Ready for IAE 2016!

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Greetings Explorers!

Our HQ Team has finally slept off the holiday “food coma” and we are going full speed ahead in “Expedition mode,” as we prepare for our 2016 International Antarctic Expedition. We couldn’t be more excited about our upcoming journey with all of you. Our program this year will be bigger and better than ever, and will include an additional day in Antarctica. Our team is looking forward to exploring and being in the last great wilderness with you.

Our program of world-class speakers is taking shape and we can’t wait to announce our lecture series for this year, and our efforts to create “champions” continues again this year with an incredible group of participants from around the world. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you in Ushuaia in less than 60 days from now...Welcome Aboard!

Robert Swan, OBE

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