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.
There’s never a dull moment on the ship. “Wakey Wakey Wakey” – Jumper’s melodious voice for an early wake up call on Saturday morning. A “Broncos 5” warning, and we were all up on the ship’s seventh floor deck. Freezing cold weather, we were hoping to warm up from some picturesque sightings like earlier mornings. Our excitement was short lived, as the awestruck sight was speaking of a harsh reality. What stood in front was a floating iceberg, about the size of a mini island, spanning a square kilometer surface area, and hiding its quarter kilometer depth. The sight, an inconvenient truth, was pleading us to wake up and amend our ways. Climate Change is happening and it’s around the corner.
A gloomy start to the morning but nature’s got a way to make up for it. What we got next was surely a treat for the eyes, a pod of Antarctic Orca’s were marching ahead of us. The patched whales, cruising, jumping and putting up a great show, totally incognizant of our presence. There go all the photo enthusiasts –“Click, Click, Click”. Thousands of shots were taken, but still not enough. After all, how often you get to sail along the great catacean’s of the Antarctic. The morning surely gave us both honey and lemons.
It was time for afternoon delights and nature surely served us platter full. Mother nature being the best sculptor hypnotized us with spectacular landscape as we cruised our way into the freezing Antarctic waters to land on floating ice sheets, first time ever. The sheets of ice moved up and down, feeling as if entire ocean is breathing, silently – reminding us that its alive and needs to be cared for. It was time to pause, reflect and rewind before we sailed back off to redefine limits of insanity.
How cold is “Cold”? One must be a scientist to answer this. All we got was insanity and we found the answer in “Polar Plunge”. Sixty-Three determined freaks bared and dared it all. Jumping in polar ice-cold waters was the highlight of the day. It felt like getting acupunctured by thousand needles in one shot. There was that moment of silence and numbness, when we all felt brain dead but came out alive with flying colors. We now got “Polar Freaks” added to our caps.
The day was over before we could realize. A very happening Saturday indeed. A little time left to introspect, embrace, and come to terms with the reality. We are still in our dreams, cruising from one dreamland to other.
Antarctic Survival Night… a regular Canadian evening- NOT!
As we took the Zamboni (AKA Zodiacs) over to Ronge’ for our “overnight camping on the ice”- there were many different attitudes. Some excited, some nervous- all looking forward to an experience.
We had all been briefed on what to do and what to expect. We were given sleeping bags with special extra liners, foam pads, waterproof outer shells to protect from the wind and snow. We got a 5 minute lesson on constructing them (mission accomplished) and then wrapped them up and put them in big fancy waterproof bags to carry over from the ship.
Our group was on one of the later Zambonis and a lot of the other groups were well on their way digging trenches to set up our sleeping apparatuses in. The trenches are dug to protect from the wind- makes sense- but sure look a lot like shallow graves.
Looking around- words are hard to find to describe the scene. Like every spot we’ve stopped at, I feel like I need a giant Thesaurus as all the words I know have been used up. Camping on another planet is what it seemed like- even if there is a picture- I’m sure it will never do justice to the setting around us. As the ship pulled away (it sailed away for the night to take its lights and amenities)- we knew we were sequestered and that’s part of the fun.
It was interesting to see who was digging together and how big the groups that formed were. There were some lone wolves- digging a single slot and showing independence. There were “colonies” of people from the UK- still trying to hold onto the old British Empire. The Yankee Doodles didn’t exactly build a White House- although the colour was accurate. Both Indian Delegations had Taj Mahal type holes in the snow- save for the architectural brilliance, grand scale and beauty.
Mik and I joined Scott (US), Daniel (Portugal) and Charlotte (UK but living France) and we created Club Canada. Since we were 40% Canadian- we were able to muscle in the name- the only protest was from Scott the Yank. He could take a lesson from the Brits- don’t think your empire can last forever- particularly when there is winter camping involving Canadian Scouters! By the way- Mik was a 5 star Cub back in the day (all 5 are stitched onto his jacket).
Anyhow- Club Canada had a GRAND wall and enough room for 5 and was in a great neighborhood. We managed to get a lot right next door to our new and wonderful friends from the UAE. This was their first time camping on snow and ice and they were very excited and enthusiastic. We shared our shovel and we shared laughs as we got ready for a memorable night under the stars.
Once the new homes were prepared- we were entertained by Jason and the 2041 Dancers who regaled us with a dance to demonstrate how to get into the sleeping bags the best way- and to be prepared to get back into our LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS in the morning. We also got some “training” on the “facilities”- having a weak bladder myself, I took careful consideration on all the data points.
Off to bed!- not necessarily to sleep though. Some stars peaking through- even the Southern Cross making an appearance- and plenty of chatter in many languages from all sides.
We nestled in and all seemed well- (and for me it was actually all good). But I found out in the morning that many weren’t too happy as the snow started to fall. Remembering my scout training I “cocooned” pretty quickly and had my head totally covered. One of the times I woke up I looked around and noticed a lot of faces still exposed. A couple of hours later I woke up and looked around again and every face was buried in a sleeping apparatus- the cocooning was pretty easy to figure out for all the rookies.
6AM seemed to come very quickly. For some- jubilation that it was over. For me- I could have slept another couple of hours for sure. I should admit though- despite waking up a couple of times a night on this trip- I have no problem going back to sleep. Actually- if sleep were an Olympic Event, I could make the podium. I haven’t seen much competition from the 29 countries represented on this 2041 group!
The Zambonis took us back to the ship and the memorable night was over.
I think for many it was a great experience. Its one of those special things- love every minute of it- or hate every second of it- there is no way you are going to forget it and you will definitely be talking about it for years to come.
In the words of Jumper – OUT!
We woke up quite early by Jumpers’ voice: “waky, waky, waky!” After breakfast we put on all our layers (layers, layers) for our first zodiac cruise: what an excitement! The weather was good: some snow, a bit of sun, not to windy. Our driver Rick knew what he was doing: straight off the boat he took us to an ice shelf on which we saw an Adelie penguin (the first and last Adelie we saw). We got some company: a group of Gentoo penguins was near our zodiac and suddenly there was some rumour, something was going on: a leopard seal was approaching and at first there seemed nothing would go happen. But at once, it jumped into these penguins and caught one after a short struggle. Everything happened at most 50 meters distance!! The leopard seal played some time with the penguin (like a cat with a mouse) and took it into a distant cave to eat it; the penguin was still alive and struggling. Some birds were watching, because they knew there could be some leftovers. After this action we were shipping around and saw the most amazing ice mountains and ice shelves. All different types of white and blue we spotted; because of the filtering of light through the air within the ice you can see the most beautiful shades of blue. The ice mountains are stunning: these are the most beautiful sculptures you can imagine. It doesn’t matter from which angle you approach, everything is absolutely amazing! Sometimes you hear a lot of noise, like a building is imploding. That’s what happens if the balance of an ice mountain has been disturbed: the mountain is too heavy on top and falls down or tumbles over with that mind-blowing sound. We can describe a lot of other things, like a leopard seal laying on an ice shelf, sometimes lifting up his head to make clear that she is watching us. We can describe the enormous mountains covered with snow, we can describe the amazing birds we’ve seen, but words cannot explain what we saw today. It was absolutely overwhelming! After lunch we went out for a second cruise: landing at shore (Captain Charcot landed there over hundred years before)! We get a warm welcome from a lot of gentoo penguins, which are watching our landing. The mission of the afternoon was climbing up a hill in our teams using a rope, which tied us together. Sounds really easy but it was quite harder than you will think. Under the fresh powder snow, you can find frozen penguin pooh (smelling bad). Tied together we had to learn how to behave if anybody slips and fall. The Team Leader shouted:”Falling” and every member has to fall down on his stomach push his elbows in the snow to make sure nobody can get lost. As you can imagine, Team Leaders have had a lot of fun yelling “Falling” nearly every 30 seconds! After a little bit of slipping and climbing we came up to the top of the hill. What an amazing sight! Sun came out and the sea and the ice were covered with such beautiful kinds of blue. Everybody was really proud he reached here at the end of the world. For some of our participants the first snowball-fight started or the first snowman in their whole life was built. Going down again was really exciting, because we walk trough a penguin colony. These cute little birds were really curious and some of them want to take pictures with us. I think today over hundreds of selfies with gentoo penguins were made. Back at the ship some of us made a really rare sight. Near the “sea spirit” an iceberg rolled over- that means he turned around from the bottom to the top. Just impressive and a little bit scaring! What will follow tomorrow?
Al vroeg werden we wakker gemaakt door Jumpers stem: “waky, waky, waky!” Na het ontbijt trokken we al onze lagen aan voor onze eerste tocht met de zodiacs: spannend! Het weer was goed: we hadden wat sneeuw, er was wat zonneschijn en het waaide niet te hard. Onze schipper Rick wist wat hij deed: direct nam hij ons mee naar een groot brok ijs waarop we een Adelie pinguin zagen liggen (de eerste en laatste Adelie die we zagen). We kregen gezelschap: een groep Gentoo pinguins was in de buurt van onze zodiac en opeens was er onrust, was er wat gaande: een leopard seal (sorry, ik weet de Nederlandse term niet, maar het is een zeehond die uitermate gevaarlijk kan zijn, ook voor mensen) kwam aanzwemmen en eerst leek het erop dat er niets zou gaan gebeuren. Maar opeens sprong de leopard seal tussen deze pinguins en greep er een na een kort gevecht. Alles gebeurde op minder dan 50 meter afstand!! De leopard seal speelde een tijdje met de pinguin (als een kat met een muis) en nam hem met zich mee naar een afgelegen inham om ‘m rustig op te eten. De pinguin leefde nog en probeerde zich los te wurmen. Vogels keken toe, omdat ze wisten dat er ook voor hen wat voedsel zou zijn. Na deze actie voeren we rond en zagen we de meest geweldige ijsbergen en ijsbrokken. We zagen alle kleuren wit en blauw; vanwege de filtering van het licht door de lucht in het ijs kan je de meest geweldige blauwtinten zien. De ijsbergen zijn geweldig: dit zijn de mooiste sculpturen die je je ook maar voor kunt stellen. Het maakt niet uit waar je vandaan komt, alles is werkelijk fantastisch! Soms hoor je een hoop kabaal alsof er een gebouw aan het instorten is. Dat is namelijk wat er gebeurt als een ijsberg uit balans is: de berg wordt dan topzwaar en stort in of gaat ronddraaien met dat fantastische geluid. We kunnen nog heel veel dingen opnoemen, zoals een leopard seal die op een brok ijs ligt, soms haar hoofd optillend om duidelijk te maken dat ze ons heel goed door heeft. We kunnen de enorme bergen die met sneeuw bedekt zijn opnoemen, de prachtige vogels die we gezien hebben, maar woorden kunnen niet uitleggen, wat wij vandaag gezien hebben. Het was absoluut overweldigend! Nach dem Mittagessen ging es los zur zweiten Tour: Landung auf festem Grund (Kapitän Chagot landete vor über 100 Jahren an fast der gleichen Stelle)! Bei der Landung wurden wir äußerst herzlich von Gentoo Pinguinen empfangen, die unser Kommen aufmerksam beobachteten. Die Mission des Nachmittags war es, in unseren Teams gesichert durch ein Seil einen schneebedeckten Hügel hinaufzusteigen. Klingt einfach, ist aber wesentlich komplizierter, als man glauben mag. Unter dem frischen Puderschnee befinden sich gefrorene Hinterlassenschaften der ortsansässigen Pinguine (riecht fürchterlich). Zusammengebunden mussten wir natürlich lernen, wie man sich zu verhalten hat, falls jemand ausrutscht und fällt. Der Team Leader ruft “Falling” und jeder in der Gruppe muss sich auf den Bauch werfen und die Ellenbogen in den Schnee rammen, so dass alle abgesichert sind. Wie man sich vorstellen kann, hatten die Team Leader eine Menge Freude daran im 30 Sekunden Takt “Falling” zu rufen. Nach einer kleinen Rutsch- und Kletterpartie erreichten wir die Spitze des Hügels! Die Aussicht war unbeschreiblich. Die Sonne kam raus, so dass die See und die Eisberge in den verschiedensten Blautönen funkelten. Jeder von uns war sehr stolz, dass er die Spitze und damit fast das Ende der Welt erreicht hat. Einige unserer Teilnehmer bekamen die Gelegenheit ihre allererste Schneeballschlacht zu starten oder ihren allerersten Schneemann zu bauen. Auch der Abstieg war auf seine Art sehr aufregend, da uns unser Weg durch eine Pinguin-Kolonie führte. Diese niedlichen kleinen Vögel waren überaus neugierig und erweckten den Eindruck, dass sie Fotos mit uns machen wollten. Ich denke, heute sind Hunderte von Selfies mit Pinguinen entstanden. Zurück auf dem Schiff konnten einige von uns eine wirklich einzigartige Beobachtung machen. Ganz in der Nähe der Sea Spirit rollte ein Eisberg um seine eigene Achse- das bedeutet, dass die Seite, die sich vorher im Wasser befand nun oben ist. Man kann sich kaum etwas Beeindruckenderes vorstellen, dass einem zugleich gehörige Angst einflößt. Was werden wir morgen erleben? Yvonne and Sarah
“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”
On September 2014 I received extraordinary news – my two colleagues and me had been selected to represent Bain at the International Antarctic Expedition 2015! A long-standing dream will have come true! Followed six sleepless but exciting months of fundraising, trainings gear preparation and gathering information. The first days have exceeded all my expectations. They have been rich with meeting in person Robert Swan and his great team. With expanding my knowledge of the current geopolitical status of Antarctica and risks threatening it, climate change reality and carbon emissions impact, leaders’ role in making a change as well as other issues. With getting to know other expedition participants from different countries, of different ages and backgrounds but with the same interests and values. With sharing and getting inspired by life stories, projects and activities, opinions and ideas on creating a difference in our companies and communities upon our return. Reflecting on my own role in and action plan for creating a sustainable, abundant and joyful world for everyone.
Today, full of thrill, we are heading south. The journey will take us beyond the edge of the world, beyond the edge of ourselves
The Martial Glacier is nestled in the mountains above Ushuisa. Steadily retreating over the last fifteen years it serves as a lesson not only in the practicalities of expedition life but also the imperative of the mission, act now! #icyclassroom #IAE2015
If you draw a line between the tip of Patagonia and the Antarctic peninusula you can get a pretty good idea about the route the team will be sailing over the next few days. The wind looks good- at the moment, a solid tail wind which should blow until late tomorrow morning. Later tomorrow seas betweeen four and six metres will force us to skirt east. A stock standard passage crossing. Bit of rock, bit of roll, lets work!
In 2014 filmmaker Hamida Al-Kawari traveled with Robert Swan and 2041 to Antarctica. This is the rough cut of the film she produced. The experience was so important she has returned in 2015 to perfect her vision. Go Hamida!
The Antarctic Treaty is a facinating example of co-operation between nations that have chosen peace instead of conflict, science instead of exploitation. Robert Swan is adamant that the treaty provides a model for how the world could reach new levels of accord in dealing with the increasingly diminishing resources of our planet. 2041s mission is to preserve the Antarctic by putting renewable energy at the forefront of the global agenda so there is no need to exploit what is the worlds last great wilderness. 'We should have the sense to leave just one place alone' - Sir Peter Scott, son of Robert Falcon Scott.
Excitement builds as the first group of expeditioners arrive from around the world. Some team members have been flying for more then 45 hours! Serious commitment from a great group. Lets work! #icyclassroom #IAE2015