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!
I’m one of the lucky six folk flying to King George Island tomorrow, fair skies willing, to join the support crew for the Shackleton Epic. As I pare back my luggage to 10kg of essentials, a ripple of excitement goes through my veins. Tonight we’ll celebrate the launch of this adventure (and my birthday) and speculate how tomorrow will unfold. Perhaps I’ll have some more of the sensational local seafood like the scallops and salmon I had last night – it surely is the best from icy waters! And perhaps a Shackleton beer or two might be had (he’s also immortalised in many ways around these parts)…though with around 3 hours on a tiny Cessna tomorrow, crossing Tierra del Fuego, many glaciers dotting the Southern Andes, Cape Horn and the Drake Passage – a hangover is definitely not wanted!
The true big time adventurers, Tim Jarvis and his five men are on the support yacht, Australis. The live tracking shows me they have nearly made it to King George Island and hopefully our rendezvous tomorrow will all go to plan. For me and my fellow travellers, we have magnificent scenery, wildlife and lots of learning coming up about Antarctica and what made Shackleton such an amazing leader. For Tim and his men, they have an enormous challenge ahead – to sail the little Alexandra Shackleton boat from Elephant Island to Sth Georgia, and then hike across this rugged island in Shackleton’s footsteps. Cross your fingers and toes for them and stay tuned for their progress!”
Update 9 January: Australis has made it to Arctowski base, King George Island. The crew are unloading gear and inspecting Alexandra Shackleton – preparing for 10 days of sea trials to get everything right. After being delayed by bad weather, Jane and the sponsor support crew have finally flown from Punta Arenas to join Australis, and already have excitedly reported sightings of the region’s unique wildlife, including whales!
You can follow the Shackleton Epic via the blog and Live Tracking at shackletonepic.com/blog.
To support Jane’s efforts to raise funds for the linked cause, Fauna & Flora International and their biodiversity and habitat protection work, please head to justgiving.com/JaneCrouch.