Back to the ‘ice’ in Shackleton’s footsteps

For me, it’s the deep blue colour of the ice that draws me back, and the overwhelming sense of humility that you feel when confronted with the enormity of the continent.

It’s a cliché, but it really is ‘the trip of a lifetime’ and once you’ve been, you’ll come back a passionate advocate for the ‘Ice’, and for the importance of keeping it just the way it is!

We were woken at 4am today by our expedition leader Graham – as we were already well south of the Antarctic Convergence it was already broad daylight. The weather was fair, with light winds, and not too cold. Perfect weather for a brisk walk. By 5am we had made landfall on South Georgia at the beach at Fortuna Bay, and our little team of Kiwi expeditioneers were ready to follow in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s footsteps. Our goal was to walk just the last 2 hours of his epic 1916 traverse of South Georgia, the final leg of his marathon rescue attempt to save the lives of the crew of the Endurance expedition marooned on Elephant Island.

Compared to what the ‘Boss’ had achieved, our task was a mere stroll around the Bay and up a gentle snow slope to a ridge, and from there to a Pass. We’d then slide on our backsides down an easy snow slope and then walk down a valley, from where we’d be picked up by Zodiac and back to our ship in time for breakfast!

But what a moment when we reached the Pass. From here we could look down to the ruins of the old whaling station at Stromness Harbour. Legend has it that when Shackleton, Crean and Worsley heard the whistle from Stromness that morning, calling the men to work, they knew they had completed the first-ever confirmed land crossing of the South Georgia interior. To stand on that same spot, and to imagine the sense of relief they must have felt, was fantastic. Goosebumps don’t begin to describe it.