A Travellerspoint blog

8. Trip to Beautiful

It's official: My Seventh Continent

sunny 32 °F

FracturedSlope.JPGSnowfall.JPGHaving been all over the world, I consider myself as qualified as any to offer this opinion: Antarctica is the most beautiful place on our planet. I thought this southernmost spot would remind me of this summer’s Svalbard journey to the northernmost spot. They are wildly different. Here, the splendor of the place overwhelms you. It certainly is an unfair advantage for this place that the weather has been nothing short of spectacular.

LunchAlFrescoWide.JPGAfter a wonderful al fresco luncheon on Lido Deck 5 Aft, we were off via Zodiac to Neko Harbor for the first official landfall on the actual continent of Antarctica. We're on the peninsula but that is certainly a part of this vast continent that is bigger than the lower 48 states of the U.S.A. Our previous landfalls were technically on the South Shetland Islands. This, today, was the real thing: the mainland.

large_Paul7thContinent.JPG61cc8300-2065-11ea-9fb1-511639da0efc.JPGA flag was set up to commemorate the occasion. For me, I can now claim to have set foot on all 7 continents. Here, north of Port Lockroy where we could not land because of ice, a beach lay beneath glacier cliffs and behind ice chunks and under the care of more Gentoo Penguins. We are told that once landed, we should make our way up above the beach to at least the snowline. Why? Should a large piece of ice calve from a nearby glacier--and there are hundreds of those possibilities within easy eyesight--a "tsunami" wave would result that would swamp the beach. It is highly unlikely that such a thing would occur but it has happened resulting in a flipped Zodiac and some soggy expeditions.

PenguinGroomingBeakOpen.JPGOnce off the beach, the task ahead involved a hike up the side of the mountain to a lookout point where the harbor and the glacier terminus lie below. Not everyone made it all the way but I sure as hell did. As a matter of fact, I was in the first ten to “summit” our climb. Old guys rule.

PaulHiking.JPGPaulHikeSuccess.JPGShipBelowHike.JPGThe amazing weather made this a place where the parka came off, then the shell fell, gloves were removed, neck gators pocketed and still the heat produced from the combination of sun and exertion trekking up the hill to the lookout created not a global warming but a personal warming that called forth sweat in the freezing cold. I am wearing lots of sunscreen as everyone should.

After my descent, arriving back at the beach I opted for a side track to make way for a Gentoo traveling down to the water. They are a delight to watch.

Back aboard Hebridean Sky at 6:10 we heard the announcement that our special Antarctican Bar-B-Q would be held outside tonight with Czech Rock ‘n Roll Randy (don’t ask) providing entertainment. We are used to the cold by now; it was delightful.

We are warned to be prepared to hear an announcement before dark (midnight or so) that orcas have been spotted. That warning prompted me to keep my camera at the ready as I write this. A pod of 40 orcas is reported to be somewhere about. There is no guarantee here of anything at all; one takes what one is offered. But, an orca pod would be wonderful to see.

The day--impacted by unexpected wind-blown ice--did not go as planned. I am all the luckier for that.

Posted by paulej4 16:52 Archived in Antarctica

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Absolutely amazing!!

by Linda Fraschilla

The most amazing journey for the most amazing man. Did you plan on leaving on Friday the 13th, or did it just work out that way?
I always feel like I'm there when reading you blogs and seeing the pictures. This was no exception, I'm reading and viewing, and all of a sudden-I'm freezing and need a hot cup of tea.
I know you have run out of continents, but please don't stop traveling. I love reading your blogs and live vicariously through them.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

by Jeff Persily

Sounds like you’re having a great time! Hope “the old guy’s rule” holds for the rest of your journey!

by Becky

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