Jade green icebergs, iridescent blue ice water, the sweet smell of shit from 1.5 million Adelie penguins, seal breath, the haunting boom of cracking glaciers, icy zodiac rides and the smell of trees; a long form photo essay.
The plane punches through the bottom deck of the clouds, suddenly rock pillars rise like stoic teeth from a thrashing ocean below. Snow blows sideways, colours are gone, the world is a monotone natural colour set of water, ice and rock. We’re only two hundred meters above the water approaching a sheer bluff aimed at a barely visible short gravel runway maintained by the Chilean airforce. This is Frei Station, on King George Island, in the Shetland Islands —the gateway for flight accessed research and tourism in Antarctica.
I’m sitting in a leather seat, on a 70 seater BAE 146-200 turbo fan short runway specialized jet, in business class, surrounded by a host of excited passengers; the heroic age of suffering is over, we’re here to see, smile, and spend time together in comfort aboard the Ocean Nova our trusty 79m ice-strengthened ship. However, first we need to clear the runway, walk down to Maxwell Bay threading the needle between a Russian and Chilean station and load into inflatable zodiacs for a wet ride out to our new home base.
I’m here officially as a “Media Coordinator,” for Antarctica 21, a tour operator and Antarctic fly-cruise specialist. I’ve been tasked with creating a photo slideshow of each trip for passengers to take home, as well as run onboard media and drive zodiacs through ice filled waters. The contract is for just over 5-weeks and we’ll be hosting five groups exploring both the Weddel Sea and west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, with one adventure south of the Polar Circle and one crack at the infamous Drake Passage.
The following is a long form photo essay from my time onboard.
Note: click on photos to enlarge.