Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Night on the Ice?

Got to get excited about this!  Just learned that we are to be offered the opportunity to spend a night ashore camping in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica.  Described by our tour operator as a “pure bred expedition style” field activity, guests will be invited to spend a night in tents, either ashore on the Antarctic Continent itself or on islands offshore.  Campers are promised a unique experience. It will be silent; they will hear the icebergs crackle, penguins twitter and waves working on the coastline. They will fall asleep comfortably in winter expedition sleeping bags assured that all equipment is top end.

Definitely up for that!

Drama in Antarctica

Holy cow!  The MS Fram has had to be rescued by a Royal Navy vessel, the HMS Protector, after becoming trapped among huge ice floes in the Antarctic Sound at the nothern tip of the Peninsula. Happily no one was injured and the ship was able to continue its voyage after the operation which lasted a couple of hours.  Only last week another Antarctic cruise ship, the Silver Explorer, had to cancel its voyage and return to the Argentinian port of Ushuaia after being damaged by a freak wave which some reports put at 10m high.  The bridge of the ship was damaged and four crew members injured, none seriously.

It’s a dangerous business, this polar travel.  Let’s hope that’s all the drama from Antarctica for this season.  We sail from Ushuaia on the MS Fram on 22 February, just over four weeks from now.

Guidelines for Visitors to Antarctica

48 Countries are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty originally adopted in Washington, DC in December, 1959.  Ireland is NOT one of them.  At the 2011 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM XXXIV, Buenos Aires), Treaty Parties adopted new general guidelines for visitors to the Antarctic (Resolution 3).  These Guidelines can be viewed here:

The Hagglund

The Hagglund is an articulated, all-purpose, all-terrain vehicle originally designed for the Swedish military for use in the snow and bog-lands of northern Sweden.  It is also used nowadays by the US and Australian research organisations based in Antarctica.  Most recently it was used by the Australian Government to transport Santa Claus to the Davis Station in Antarctica.

The vehicle has extraordinary capabilities as demonstrated here.

A Hagglund at the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch

They have a couple in the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, NZ, where they use them to take visitors on  demonstration rides across a specially designed obstacle course (and where this photo was taken).

It’s quite an experience and better than any roller coaster I have been on.  Unfortunately, we won’t get to ride one on our upcoming trip but they are a further demonstration of how far we have come since the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.