Following on from last week’s post, An Epic Antarctic Love Affair, Intrepid’s Jane Crouch shares more on the Shackleton Epic expedition and what it’s like to spot ‘nice-bergs’ and curious leopard seals at close range…
“The Polish base, Arctowski, on King George Island was the base for our 6 hardy intrepid adventurers whilst completing their final preparations, sea trialling the Alexandra Shackleton, and readying their gear and themselves for the journey ahead.
It’s hard to imagine a more adventurous, determined and passionate group of men than those who have just successfully completed the Shackleton Epic expedition. Not only did they risk their own lives to re-enact one of the greatest survival stories of all time, but they used traditional gear, endured comparable challenging conditions as Shackleton and his men, and did it with great spirit and fervour.
After a harrowing 3-day climb across South Georgia’s mountainous interior, expedition leader Tim Jarvis and mountaineer, Royal Marine Barry Gray were exhausted, severely weather beaten but elated to reach the old whaling station at Stromness, at 2245GMT, 10 February (0945 AEDT 11 February), the same location where Shackleton and his men raised the alarm that the crew of the Endurance needed rescue, almost 100 years ago. They were accompanied by fellow crew member, Paul Larsen, navigator aboard the Alexandra Shackleton replica boat, who provided support for the mountain crossing in contemporary gear.
Adventures don’t come much more remote and dramatic than Antarctica, but for a landlubber like Geoff ‘Manch’ Manchester, would this Intrepid co-founder cope with being cooped up on an ocean voyage…
“Backpacking and Intrepid-travelling is my thing. Cruising? Hardly! I get cabin fever being on an island, let alone in the confines of a small ship. And I’m used to groups of 12 travellers, not 100!
While the Shackleton Epic team are waiting for a break in the weather so they can embark on their extraordinary re-enactment of the legendary expedition, the group of sponsors lucky enough to be taking part on the support vessel Australis have been loving their taste of Antarctica. Intrepid’s Jane Crouch has been on board and lets us in on the wonders of this great white continent but also its very real threat…
“Awesome, magnificent, gob-smacking Antarctica. There just doesn’t seem to be enough adjectives – whether taking in the minutiae of ice-crystals or the water repellence of seal fur, or the grand vistas of snow-laden jagged peaks and icy waters – Antarctica is extraordinarily beautiful and any words don’t seem to do adequate justice to the incredible majesty of the place.
Simply hear the name and it evokes images of great expeditions, astounding landscapes, incredible wildlife and adventures as wild as they come. Antarctica is a Holy Grail for many of us in the adventure travel industry, so David Phillips didn’t need to be asked twice…
“I had wanted to visit Antarctica for as long as I could remember, so when the opportunity arose for me to join an expedition cruise to the ‘great white continent’, I jumped at the chance! Our days around the Antarctic Peninsula were filled scenes of awesome beauty. From high up on the decks of the ship we could look out upon glaciated mountains coated in the purest white snow, across to islands and coves that were home to thousands of penguins.
Intrepid’s Jane Crouch is poised to take part in a real adventure of a lifetime. Here’s her first Shackleton Epic post from Punta Arenas…
“As I take in the view across the Straits of Magellan, I ponder the explorers past and present that have passed through the region. Ferdinando Magellan sailed up the straits that now bear his name, during his quest to circumnavigate the globe nearly 500 years ago.
Many Antarctic explorers have used Punta Arenas as their staging point: De Gerlache from Belgium in 1897; Amundsen from Norway in 1897; Robert Scott from England in 1904; Sir Ernest Shackleton coordinated the rescue of his men from here in 1916; and in 2013 …Jane Crouch of Melbourne. Yes, lucky me, but something tells me I won’t be listed on the foreshore plaque, or immortalised in a statue as Magellan is around town!