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2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition
2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition
2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition
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1999 Antarctica Ski/
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Expedition Dispatches

Antarctic Peninsula Climb/Cruise
Facing 1,000lbs. of Blubber
Thursday, February 17, 2000

Hans Saari
Alex Lowe climbed an iceberg when he came to the Antarctic Peninsula several years ago, which ended up on the cover of Climbing magazine. Naturally, being climbing zealots, we wanted to climb one as well. Today it was Stephen's lucky day as he was the one to first hop aboard an iceberg. It was grounded safe and he wore a life preserver just in case he fell. The berg was low angle and safe. What he did not count on was a Leopard seal circling around the base of the iceberg ready to chew him to bits if he did pitch into the ocean. The seal charged our Zodiac several times, flashing its white belly and snarling its teeth. At a weight close to 1,000 pounds, the enraged animal gave me the shivers from the safety of the boat. Stephen still had to get back into the Zodiac. This proved to be a difficult maneuver since the spot Stephen picked to get back on the boat was also the best way for the seal to get on the berg. All ended safely as Stephen leapt into the rubber dingy and we sailed to the safety of the Akademik. Lunch was a teriyaki pork salad. Mmmm good!

Kristoffer Erikson
If you want to see something wild, hop on a Russian icebreaker named the Akademik Shuleykin and cruise south, down the Antarctic Peninsula. You will see something amazing around every corner. Today we must have traveled around at least four of those amazing corners. First, we took Stephen out to climb an iceberg and feed him to an angry Leopard seal. We then went and climbed to the top of Mount Dimarie, and skied from its 2,100-foot summit. As we were descending, we radioed in our Zodiac for the five-mile trip back to the boat. As we drove towards the ship, Rick Hunt yelled, "Whales at 1 o'clock."

Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of Minke whales, surfacing and spouting seawater and food five to 10 feet in the air. Unbelievable, as is the norm in Antarctica. We were freezing from having hiked the 2,000-plus feet, which worked up a solid sweat, while being pounded by the never-ending rain and wind. We decided to head back to our vessel. Right about that time, Douglas Stoup screamed excitedly, "I think I saw a big whale tail."

Our driver, Dave German, stated that it must be a Humpy (Humpback whale). Before we knew what was going on there was the infamous and breathtaking whale tail 15 feet in front of us. Once again, a life long dream fulfilled. I feel like the luckiest man alive to have been able to see that in person. I am elated and both physically and mentally fulfilled. I will never forget this trip.

Rick Armstrong
We sailed, last night, from the Shetland Islands into the Gerlache Strait south towards the mainland of Antarctica. We awoke this morning with huge icebergs surrounding our vessel. In the distant background schist spires and peaks climbed their way into the blue Antarctic sky. Soon every person in our group had a pair of binoculars firmly attached to their eyes in search of our goal, a peak that would entice our spirits to climb it and then ski down its side.

Soon we saw an area that held some promise and we decided to do a reconnaissance mission with our small Zodiac...the difficulties...approaching storms just to name a few. On our reconnaissance trip we did see some possibilities, but we decided to venture south in hopes that the next area would offer more of what we were looking for. Less time meandering through very dangerous seracs and broken glaciers. On our way back we drove our Zodiac through a bridge in an iceberg, saw Crabeater seals playing in the blue waters at its base, followed Minke whales through our cove, then returned to our ship. This place is unreal.

Kristoffer Erickson
Strong rolling seas last night almost left Doug with a strong headache, as skis and gear tossed about the cabin, with the rise and fall of the each wave. As the seas lightened, the views gave way to whales, glaciated mountains and icebergs in all directions. Some of the bergs were tabular with striations while others appeared fractured, similar to what a cubist might paint in a monochromatic pallet. My personal favorite seemed to be those with the deepest color: old and polished smooth, glowing with vibrant green in the dark contrasting sea.

Throughout the Charlotte Bay we drifted in and out between icebergs, with our Zodiac looking over small groups of Crabeater seals and a group of three Minke whales. The Minke whales are the most abundant of the whales in the southern ocean numbering around 200-30,000. Mostly because of their small size, they were ignored by whalers during the early 1900s — as most focused on the larger mammals in the area. While no turns were made today, we should be around Cuverville Island by this evening, with an opportunity for some more great turns to be had in the next 24 hours.

Hans Saari
I'll try not to be redundant. Of all the places I have been in the world, Charlotte Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most amazing. The bay was littered with little ice swans, tiny pieces of ice, which had been melted by the ocean into fragile floaters and giant bergs bigger than the ship. I worried about the bergs rolling over our tiny Zodiacs as we zoomed around the bay. You can tell that one has rolled already because it is smooth and shows water lines. The ones which are dangerous are blocky and cracked, and often lean in one direction or another. If one does roll, it can send a 20-foot tidal wave over the Zodiac; a scary prospect for sure. Kris luckily lent me a roll of film. I wasted the last frame of my one roll, for the day, on a seal with a nasty case of bloody lip fungus, which put me in a super-foul mood. We passed berg after berg filled with cuddly little critters, which really pissed me off. Lucky for the new we saw whales and cruised through an iceberg with a bright blue arch in it. Seals danced around the boat. For a second, I thought that we were in the Sea World trick pool. My ice-cold hands reminded me that we were a bit further south than Florida.

The skiing and climbing prospect abounded. While the mountains look to be technical, the crux of any adventure here will be getting to shore. The coast is protected by 100-foot-high serac walls (unstable ice) which drop straight into the sea allowing little to no room for a boat landing. I have to admit that I was twitching just a tad in the boat. Nothing a lunch of hot pizza couldn't placate. Once again I have redirected my energy into chess. Dave Hahn and I are embroiled in a game as I write this and it looks to be a good battle. Hopefully we will have a chance to return to Charlotte Bay and the myriad of projects which smirk at us as we leave to sail further down the Antarctic coast.


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