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.
Antarctica Day 4 - The Snow Storm
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.
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
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.