SAILING TO THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA
Our Antarctic journeys begin in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, on the southern tip of Argentina. Ushuaia is a bustling port town and its 40,000 inhabitants are nestled between the cold mountains, and an even colder sea. ‘Downtown’ has plenty of shops including internet cafes, cafes, clothes shops, chemists and an array of good restaurants.
After gear checks and initial briefings, the group will take the ferry from Ushuaia to Puerto Williams, to load the yacht for the expedition. For 2017/18 expeditions we plan to utilise an ice-reinforced aluminium yacht that can accommodate around 8 passengers in style.
Sailing the Drake Passage is an unforgettable and unique sailing experience in itself and a great way to start our expedition. The crossing usually takes three or four days, and once we’re into the more sheltered waters of the Peninsula our first stop will most likely be Port Lockroy, for some instruction and/or re-capping of general mountaineering skills.
ON THE PENINSULA
Our itinerary for these trips are flexible, combining climbing and skiing time with exploring on the yacht, which in turn, depends mostly on weather and sea ice conditions. The yacht is fitted with the latest weather forecasting technology, satellite phone and e-mail facilities to monitor conditions and to keep in touch with home, if you so wish.
We plan to work our way down the coast towards the Lemaire Channel, climbing and skiing whatever we like the look of on the way. The opportunities are endless and have hardly had their surface scratched by mountaineers.
Another unique feature of these expeditions is that we are able to return to the yacht’s heated saloon, hot showers (occasionally), warm beds and great food after the day’s activities.
Our guides have an intimate knowledge of the various hidden gems in and around the Peninsula. Some of the peaks we may climb include Mt Shackleton, Mt Scott, Mt Francais, and literally hundreds of others. We will also seek out our own unclimbed peaks, as the boat will be on hand to transport us to whatever looks ‘on’.
Most of the time we will be doing day trips from the boat, as staying overnight on shore can be quite time consuming, and requires logistically a huge effort to carry equipment. We are taking tents though as some mountains may require a night or two to climb and it allows us flexibility to explore further inland.
We will continue further south as the trip progresses depending on sea ice conditions and weather. We may get as far south as Prospect Point which has an amazing array of unclimbed peaks and great ski touring. The sea ice will vary from season to season, and even day to day, so a major consideration as to what peaks we climb will depend on exactly where we can land a boat.
After approximately 14 days of exploring the endless climbing and/or skiing opportunities we will reluctantly have to move north up the Peninsula to the Paradise Harbour region to be in a position to cross the Drake Passage. The Drake is renowned for extreme weather so we need to allow some time to pick the best suitable time to cross back to South America. If the weather is not favourable in the Drake, it might still be good on the Peninsula so we’ll just keep on climbing until the conditions are right.
THE SAIL BACK ACROSS THE DRAKE PASSAGE
The sail back across the Drake always presents an interesting challenge. The oceans are severe and unforgiving so you’ll appreciate the experience of the crew. There is time to learn the ropes and help out with the sailing if you are well enough!
Rounding Cape Horn under sail ticks another box in every adventurer’s wish-list. There is nothing like making landfall in the unique beech forests of Patagonia after weeks of just snow and ice, whilst debriefing with a few Pisco-sours at the ‘Micalvi’, the sunken ship which serves as a bar in Puerto Williams.
If we cross back early there may be time for an overnight hike from Puerto Williams which is exceptionally beautiful with dozens of lakes and a non-technical rock spire to climb.
The whole trip is an experience of a life time, and one of our most special explorative expeditions.
From the AC Blog page
Elbrus 2017 - Hiking in Heat
Everest 2017 - Wrapping Up
Dhaulagiri 2017 - It's a wrap!
Greenland 3 Peaks 2017 - Last Days
Mera Peak 2017 - Kathmandu
Island Peak 2017 - Final Word