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.

International Antarctic Expedition 2016

The International Antarctic Expedition 2016 will be an exhilarating and unpredictable adventure, and a life-changing experience for the international group of men and women joining Robert Swan and the 2041 Team to the last great wilderness on earth. The following itinerary outlines a typical daily program you can expect on a 2041 Expedition, with examples of Antarctic locations and sights we may visit along the way.

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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

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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