Complete 2013 Expedition Film
Join us as we reflect on our journey in our complete 2013 Expedition Film.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
Final words and final visions. I’m staggering land drunk in Ushuaia. The precipitous journey across the drake has left me dried out.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
The return to civilisation is always a traumatic re-birth. The vestiges of the ice still fresh across the face, frozen fingers working on stuck zips, gripping to rails by memory alone.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
The lessons learned across the southern ocean aren’t quickly unlearned- It’s all too easy to feel the indelible pull back towards the alien south.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Yet ultimately we must all return to our reality and leave this place behind. All I can hope is that some glimmer of the imaginings we had can stay with us, pressed between layers of ice, like the Antarctic itself, protected from time, protected from us.
“Invictus” by William Ernest Henly (italics)
Best of the plunge!
Ma3 Esalama Antarctica (Bye Bye Antarctica)
Seeing is believing, is this really true? Finally after two years of having a dream and six months of fund raising, I was finally able to come to this very harsh, cold dry continent yet it was very welcoming and peaceful. I feel so overwhelmed with mixed emotions like excitement, happiness and also sadness. Happy, because I challenged myself in getting here -which I finally did it- and also sharing my story back at home. I am excited, because I can’t wait until I get home and start working to save the last wilderness on earth. I am also sad because I have to leave the greatest people and friends (human and animal friends) that I have made in the past fourteen days. Usually I get home sick after travelling for more than one week, this time I wanted to stay longer because I feel like it has completely changed who I am. I will always cherish these memories of Antarctica and everyone who has contributed in me getting there, financially or emotionally. Thank you every one, thank you Antarctica.
Buthaina Al Mahuruqi
Painting the Antarctic
My decision to paint Antarctica came about through a number of reasons, I started fundraising in 2011 but only really got serious about painting in 2012, when looking into what we’ll be seeing in Antarctica a recurring theme was the glorious blue glow from within ice-bergs and that it is impossible to capture with a camera. So a solution? Paint it.
I’ll be going back to the roots of documenting adventures. Artists were charged with the task of portraying the beauty of the landscapes discovered by their exploration team.
My three favourite painters all focus on the stunning natural world, so to go to such a mysteriously beautiful place as Antarctica armed with my camera and sketchbook I hope to get all the materials I need to try and inspire people about Antarctica as I was inspired.
When it comes to education on my return, by doing it through art I give people a chance to connect with the landscapes because they are creating images of it themselves. It is also such an open format, there are so many different styles and materials to use to create a piece of art, that anyone can try it and get involved. Hopefully people will be inspired to try the arts, and at the same time learn about and connect with the environment.
I hope to capture our story through a series of paintings, maybe starting with my first sunrise in Ushuaia which I managed to photograph from the roof of the hotel and ending with the last sunset of Antarctica.
below: Mravik’s Canada 2012 oil on canvas and Eden 2012 oil on canvas- Oli Wheeldon
Desert to Desert
We are speechless! How can we describe what we have just experienced? This wonderful, beautiful, unforgettable, impressive cold frozen paradise called Antarctica! Coming from one desert in the UAE to another desert in the Antarctic – so much alike and at the same time so different.
Every day on this journey has been better than the one before and everything has exceeded the expectations held from when we left the UAE. We have gathered a lot of new knowledge about our self, each other, the team, the environment and the adventure we are partaking in. We are privileged and honored to participate in what we see as a life changing experience.
When we step of the boat in Ushuaia in a couple of days it is not the ending of an adventure but the next chapter in the journey we started two weeks ago. Antarctica will forever be with us and we are so thankful to Robert Swan and his team for inviting us to this expedition. Also, a big thank you to HCT and Al Hosn Gas for the support and believing in us to make this fairytale come true.
Budoor Al Ali & Rikke Maria Eriksen from Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE
Its not the end but the beginning
As I sit on the Club lounge, the 4th deck of the Sea Spirit ship on the last night that we leave the continent, entering the Drakes’ Passage on our way back to Ushuaia, I am just soaking in all that has happened over the past few days with the International Antarctica Expedition “Leadership on the Edge” programme. Everyone in the lounge is preparing to say their last goodbyes for the next two days as the expedition comes to an end. It is a little bit sad for others but as for me it is not, I am happy!
As I am sitting down looking around the room with all these beautiful young people that I have come to know and cherish as a family over the last couple of few days, I do so with a smile. For me this is only the beginning of lifetime friendships that I have established on this journey, hence my happiness.
This experience has been a serious eye opener for me— my first international travel, touching snow for the first time, hiking on glaciers and drinking glacial water, camping on the cold ice, seeing penguins, albatrosses, leopard seal, polar plunging…the list is endless—all of this—first time to experience—- never in a million years have I ever thought this would happen to me this year—indeed the saying that ‘dreams do come true’ is true!
Being the first woman from my country, Botswana, to visit Antarctica it is indeed an honour, I am looking forward to going back to work with the youth on environmental awareness projects, leadership, teamwork and action as this expedition has best guided me.
I would like to thank Robert Swan and his fantastic 2041 team leaders for having made these past few days informative, fruitful and above all fun— great memories I will treasure forever; to the Antarctica Youth Ambassador Programme participants, thank you for inspiring me with your powerful stories and helping me shape up my project; to Bain & Company consultants for motivating me to be a change agent; to Shell’s John for teaching me about Climate Super Hero Powers, energy ninja…. and how can I forget the lovely Stephenie for powering my mind with “Sustainability” ideas. To all the 2041 participants I say “SALUTE!” for being my source of inspiration, I have learnt tons and tons from each and every one of you and I look forward to continuing our discussions from our respective countries (I hope to visit some of you soon. To my wonderful room-mate from India, Sonal Asgotraa, thank you for staying up late most nights sharing your thoughts on culture, tradition, family and helping me accomplish my 007 mission.
To my sponsors—Ducere Foundation and CITI Bank, thank you for making my dream come true, your support will forever be acknowledged.
Last call, Last call for Antarctica
Today as we began to do things for the last time, there was a sense of somberness in the atmosphere. It was our last time that we would hear from John and Stephanie about climate change and sustainability, our last time learning about change from the Bain team, our last time photographing the projectile poop from the penguins but most notably, our last time wrapping ourselves in ‘layers, layers, layers’. For the next few days as we venture back through the Drake Passage, our newly united 2041 family will be our source of warmth.
I found myself this morning at breakfast sitting at a table with a bunch of warm, open- hearted individuals – all of which have arabic as a first language. Thankfully, for my sake they all also spoke english. Two weeks ago, I probably would have chosen the empty seat next to a familiar Australian face, but the ear to ear smiles and roars of laughter that surrounded the table were too hard to resist. As we sat there comparing languages and cultural differences, the word family was mentioned several times. It stuck to me then, but little did I know that it would end up being an underlying theme of the day.
Disembarking the zodiac’s for the second last time into a sea of slippery ice, Rob welcomed us to the Russion station on Antarctica known as Bellinghausen. Before hiking over the hill to see the magnificent sight of four elephant seals, we were given the opportunity to visit the 2041 E-base station that currently runs on 100% renewable energy and has done since it’s establishment in 2007. Powered by fierce antarctic winds and energy from the sun, this foundation is a shining example that renewable energy is possible and plausible, for if it can be done in Antarctica then it can be done anywhere in the world.
As Sky, the E-base caretaker, presented the grand tour, he pointed out the surrounding Chilean, Chinese and Korean stations . He also mentioned that despite the time zones that separate the nations(on the same island), in any emergency situation, everyone comes together and works as family to resolve the situation.
And right now as I sit here in the lounge, I am once again surrounded by 2041 team members, leaders and ship crew that I now know as my family. Sharing music, stories, photos and contacts – it’s almost time to say goodbye and head home to our own families.
Un cuento para Daniela- A bed time story for Daniela
“en busca de un mundo más sostenible”
Hola Daniela , hace ya muchos días que nos separamos, ya se que ahora no entenderás porqué tu papa se ha ido tan lejos y por tanto tiempo, pero te voy ha contar un cuento para que lo entiendas .Tu papa está en la Antártida, un lugar de los más maravillosos que quedan en el mundo . He venido hasta aquí con mis amigas Nathalie y Belén para unirnos a la expedición IAE 2013 .Aquí hemos encontrado un grupo de 80 amigos de más de 29 nacionalidades diferentes que compartían nuestra misma aventura. Desde el primer día que llegamos nos han estado enseñando a trabajar en equipo. Ya te darás cuenta que trabajando en equipo todo es más fácil y que cuando consigues el objetivo que persigues poder celebrarlo con todos es muy gratificante.
Otra de las cosas que he aprendido es que nada es imposible si tu tienes claro tu objetivo . Esto me lo ha enseñado Sai.El es un amigo de la India que tiene un pequeño problema al caminar, pero eso no le ha impedido conseguir su sueño , estar aquí en la Antartida y disfrutar de esta experiencia.
También he aprendido a valorar y disfrutar de los pequeños detalles , ver la cara de alegría de Lilian al tocar la nieve por primera vez o la alegría de todo el grupo al ver el primer iceberg .Has de aprender a disfrutar y valorar cada momento de tu vida por pequeño que parezca . Valorar las pequeñas cosas te hará ser más fuerte.
La Antártida es lugar muy especial donde viven tus amigos los pingüinos con sus amigas las focas ,las ballenas , las orcas y otros muchos animales más “No te preocupe que a todos les he dicho que yo soy el papa de Daniela”. Es tan bonita la Antártida que después de escuchar a mi amigo Rob ahora tengo claro que hago yo aquí . He venido a aprender y a ayudar a conseguir que el día de mañana tu y tus amigos podáis conocer y disfrutar de lugares tan especiales como este . Que podáis disfrutar del mundo tal como lo hemos conocido nosotros y a poder ser un mundo aun mejor .Rob también nos ha enseñado que no estamos haciendo bien las cosas y que aunque no va a ser fácil está en nuestras manos cambiarlo. Daniela, no esperes a que alguien haga algo primero, hazlo tu. Si no eres tu ¿ quién lo va hacer?
Hoy emprendo Yo este camino , pero tendréis que ser tú y tus amigos quien en un futuro hagáis realidad el sueño que hace muchos años empezaron Rob y sus amigos. Conseguir un mundo más sostenible.
Que tengas dulces sueños Daniela.
“in search of a more sustainable world”
Hello Daniela, it has been many days since we haven’t been together, perhaps you may not understand why your dad has been so far away and for such a long period, but I’m going to tell you a story to help explain. Your dad is in Antarctica, one of the most wonderful places left in the world. I came here with my friends Nathalie and Belén as part of the IAE 2013 expedition. Here, we joined a group of 80 friends from over 29 different countries to share the same adventure. From the first day we arrived, we have been learning about teamwork. Now, you will know that working in a team makes things easier, and when you achieve your goal, celebrating as a team is very rewarding.
Another thing I’ve learned is that nothing is impossible if you have a clear goal. Sai taught me this lesson. He is a friend from India that has a little trouble walking. But, this has not stopped him from achieving his dream to be here in Antarctica and enjoy this experience.
I’ve also learned to value and enjoy the small things in life, for example seeing Lillian’s happy face when she touched snow for the first time or seeing the joy of the whole group when we saw our first iceberg. You should learn to enjoy and appreciate every moment of your life, even if it may seem small. Valuing the little things will make you stronger.
Antarctica is very special place where your friends the penguins live along with their friends the seals, whales, the orcas and many other animals. Don’t worry dear, I have told them all that “I am the father of Daniela.” Antarctica is so beautiful and after listening to my friend Rob, I am now clear what I am doing here. I’m here to learn and help make sure that you and your friends can come and enjoy special places like this in the future. I want you to enjoy the world as we have experienced it and perhaps make it an even better place. Rob has also taught us that we are not doing things well today, and – although it will not be easy – we have the power to make a difference. Daniela, don’t wait for someone to do something first, do it yourself. If not you, who?
Today I begin this journey, but it will be you and your friends who in the future will make this dream, that Rob and his friends started many years ago, a reality. Deliver a more sustainable world.
Sweet dreams Daniela.
Whale oil, in times gone, was used as an energy source. Deception Island though offers a stark reminder about its place in whaling history with buildings and big metal storage vats still remaining to this day. The whaling activities on the island commenced in 1906 and construction for a base soon followed. Yet after the First World War the price of whale oil plummeted due to the Great Depression that engulfed much of the world. The whaling station was abandoned and there it still sits today along with a whale graveyard. Today many people see clean renewable energy sources as the way forward in combating climate change and protecting our environment. It makes you wonder what role Antarctica could potentially play in the move towards harnessing renewable energy as a way of lowering our carbon emissions. The reason the whaling stoped on Deception Island is that the market for whale oil disappeared during the depression and it no longer became profitable to kill whales. Perhaps a similar situation could happen today in regards to climate change and lowering our carbon emissions. If we simply stoped supporting and using energy sources that are harming the environment then maybe they might start cutting back as the demand will have disappeared. Instead if we started supporting clean renewable energy sources we might be able to help protect Antarctica from climate change.
Antarctic waters are not renowned as a must visit destination for those who love to swim in the sea.
Yet after a week of mostly ignoring the actual waters of the continent in favour of the countless icebergs and islands 70 slightly crazy people rushed up onto deck three in dressing gowns to throw themselves overboard.
The famous and perhaps feared polar plunge had been playing on many peoples minds since we first left port in Ushuaia.
We always knew that the day would come, but we did not know when it would occur.
The morning started bright and early as always with a lovely wake up call blasting across the ships intercom, and soon we were suited up and ready to jump into zodiacs and land on the continent of Antarctica.
We were organised into groups and went through a wilderness survival course on the ice learning a crash course in first aid, survival skills and ropes.
This was incredibly useful and should have been a warning about the activity that awaited us on our return.
As we disembarked from the zodiac and re entered the ship there was a sign posted across our daily itinerary.
It read: polar plunge, NOW!
It was chaos as people ran to change into a strange array of bathers, thermals and the odd penguin outfit for the plunge.
Those opting to stay warm and dry stood out on deck watching everyone jump into the freezing waters of Antarctica.
I was hesitant to jump, and originally stood on deck and decided against what I thought seemed like a mad idea.
Yet slowly the fun and adventure took hold and I raced back to my cabin with Lillian from Botswana to find out how cold it really was in the water.
Lets just say, it was cold and over so quickly that I hardly remember it.
The highlight of the day certainly was running up the stairs onto deck 5 and jumping into the Jacuzzi that was warm and watching ice bergs float by.
Jumping from a ship into dark blue waters with ice floating past might seem a little mad, but coming down to Antarctica in the first place is an adventure and why not take every opportunity to experience this marvellous place, even if it was colder and wetter than usual?
In an unfortunate turn of events, one of our team members; Mariam Alhammadi, had to return home from Ushuaia. With the expedition hanging in the balance for her two companions- Rikke Eriksen and Budoor Alali, another team member, Joe Bularzik sacrificed his spot on the ship to help take Mariam home. It was a demonstration of true leadership, commitment and dedication from Joe, the likes of which have never been seen before. You are with us in spirit Joe and Mariam in Antarctica!
In the Footsteps of Scott and Swan
My love for the faraway land of Antarctica began long ago. I am not sure if it was the penguins or the remoteness that enticed me to learn more about Antarctica, but I brought it to my teaching. I am a teacher, and therefore my interests, my passions, are passed on to my students.
Each year, I would teach my young charges about the land so far away. I never dreamed of going myself, until the day Robert Swan came to speak at my school. In the Footsteps of Scott was the expedition that he spoke to us about. In 1985-86, Robert, along with Roger Mears and Gareth Wood walked 900 miles, carrying all of their supplies with them, to the South Pole. This was a life changing experience for Robert Swan, and it turned into a knock-on effect to change my life too. Originally, a man born in 1868, is the inspiration that led Robert Swan to Antarctica. It was Robert Scott, that fascinating, bigger than life character that attempted to reach the South Pole first, made it second, and froze to death shortly afterward. Robert Scott became a legend nonetheless, and Robert Swan was influenced as a young boy by the legend of Scott of the Antarctic!
I remember listening to the story of In The Footsteps of Scott that day Robert spoke. I remember then going to see Rob after his talk to ask him to sign my copy of the book he wrote for children about his journey, called Destination Antarctica. I then began to speak to Rob and he asked me if I wanted to go to Antarctica with his organization 2041. That is how my involvement began. And, after my voyage in 2008, I am returning in 2013. This time though, I feel a much stronger connection to In the Footsteps of Scott, and to Scott, Oates, Wilson, Bowers, and Evans. After venturing to Antarctica with Robert Swan in 2008, I became thirsty to learn everything I could about the race to the pole.
I learned that Robert Scott was a good man, interested in learning about Antarctica and sharing this with the world. Very little was known about Antarctica at this time, and the scientific studies that Scott and his team took part in were invaluable to what we now know. Scott may have failed in one sense, well dying is a pretty big negative in one’s plans, but he was successful in the legacy he left behind. He inspired many afterwards, and he inspired Robert Swan, and in turn inspired me.
As a teacher, each year I teach my class about the early explorers, as there is no better example of courage, perseverance, self-control, and wonder that I can think of. I teach them about the incredible leadership of Ernest Shackleton, the scientific work of Douglas Mawson, the strong work of Amundsen, and the devotion, determination, and curiosity of Robert Scott. In teaching the race between Amundsen and Scott, my kids walk away see Scott as a hero and not as a failure. They see the scientific work he did, and his perseverance, and they are in awe. Last year, we wrote letters to Robert Scott, as his memory is alive in us. I gave the letters to his granddaughter, Dafila Scott (whom I have been so honored to have met!). She was touched and wrote my class a beautiful letter. A link was formed that brought the past to life for my class!
In the Footsteps of Scott is alive and well and living in my experiences and in my classroom. A whole new generation of children now know all about that special person, Robert Scott, and that very special person Robert Swan. They know that their teacher is lucky to be in Antarctica for a second journey in the Footsteps of Swan who followed in the Footsteps of Scott!
Wendy Gediman IAE 2008 and 2013
Why protect Antarctica
A night on the continent
Ropes on the ice
Call for action from team COTY
The Drake was very nice with us, and the trip was more comfortable than expected and finally last Tuesday at 9:00 we saw the first iceberg, wind was much more colder, and waves calmed down. All of us were excited looking for first Antarctic signs.
Same day in the afternoon, with no delay we had the first landing into Antartica, first contact with ice and penguins on the Mikkelesen Harbour. The next morning, we were woken up at the entrance of “le Maire” channel, a narrow channel between steep high mountains covered up with glaciers… We really got the impression to enter a new untouched world, preserved from any human touch. Then we took the zodiacs to go a place where hundreds of icebergs finish their travel… a fantastic, unexpected paradise where fur seals, leopard seals, minke wales, penguins, even Orca live in peace and harmony… Many different stories to tell you about when we are back, but most importantly, we had the opportunity to experience a world where everything is sustainable: every day we have had lectures on different topics linked to change management, leadership, sustainability, all framed into the discovery of Antarctic secrets. We appreciate the real commitment that the 2041 team lead by Robert Swann is showing in walking the talk. All precautions are taken so that our stay do not impact the sealife and land that we are visiting.
We will never forget the learnings and will come back with “fresh” ideas to lead Coty into the sustainable world. Coty has the opportunity to lead the way and inspire other partners… All of us can do something… So lets do this! Act today, Shape tomorrow…
Nathalie Perroquin, Belen Garcia & David Garcia
A place to be
Lemaire Channel – Iceberg Alley – Port Charcot – Camping at Ronge Island
I doubt there are words out there in the English dictionary that would be able to properly portray the emotions, views, and essence of the places we saw today. But if I were to try, I’d say that it’s been unbelievably magical. But even saying that doesn’t do it justice.
Starting the day off during the early hours of the morning sailing through the Lemaire Channel was unquestionably brilliant. It really brought the sheer height of Antarctica to reality when comparing the near 1 kilometre high peaks to the size of the Sea Spirit. Towering over us, were these beautiful peaks that were full of contrast due to the white snow and the dark-rocks that lay beneath them, but probably just as impressive, was seeing the amount of wildlife that exists in the channel! Every once in a while, you’d be able to hear one person or another shouting “Whale at 10 o’clock!” or “Penguins!!”, and then have three-quarters of the expedition members run over to one side of the ship or another!
A zodiac cruise through Iceberg Alley was our next activity on the itinerary, and I have to say, as someone who’s spent nearly most of his life in Oman were dessert-like conditions are prevalent, being in a Zodiac cruising past dozens and dozens of icebergs of snow-white and almost fluorescent blue was absolutely breath-taking because it really did feel like I was put in a whole different world! Not to mention that the amount of wildlife increased even further as whales started appearing all over the place in packs! I was lucky enough to get a picture of a feeding whale while it was scooping krill out of the water! Possibly my favourite picture (so far!).
The cruise then took us to Port Charcot where we landed and used our newly obtained mountaineering skills in the snowy environment for the first time and learned a little more about the historic relic that can be found on the island. To find out that such a remote place at the bottom of the Earth has so much history was mind-blowing, and to think that our predecessors had the bravery within them to go somewhere that’s completely alien, and the only hard fact that they would know before making their journey is that it’s a place engulfed in extreme conditions and it’s a place where only the strong survive.
The day ended (and sort of merged into the next day) with a camp out on Antarctica at a place called Ronge Island. Personally speaking, I’ve been camping quite a few times, but I must say that this particular night out was different from any other night out I’ve had before, and probably will ever experience again. Not only was it absolutely freezing, but what I experienced that night was completely worth every shiver and chill experienced; In a world dominated by mobile phones and internet, it was extremely refreshing to be in a place so far and so disconnected from everything else in the world. Besides that, it was also the company that made the night bearable, and how everyone was looking after the person next to them throughout the night really showed the strong bonds that were built between people that were complete strangers only a week ago.
There is no comparing Antarctica with any other place in the world, its potential in changing people and creating family-like bonds between complete strangers is inconceivable unless experienced.
What whales can teach us about energy.
A Glimpse into Antarctica’s Future
As an 11 year old boy Robert Swan read an adventurous tale of Antarctic exploration. He was inspired by the story of Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole. Rob eventually fulfilled his dream by crossing the ice in the footsteps of his hero, and was so struck by the beauty and fragility of Antarctica that he dedicated his life to sharing the wonder of this most precious habitat and environment. Rob now leads the call to action for people like you and me to help to protect and preserve Antarctica.
This year we celebrate 10 years of the International Antarctic Expedition. It is a special anniversary in the journey towards our 2041 goal to ensure that people around the world continue to cherish and conserve Antarctica. Some 80 people from 28 countries on this expedition have added their voices to Robert’s.
The start of the trip also coincides with the tenth birthday of my son Luke, who is fascinated by penguins. Luke has been a penguin fan since he was a baby – and adopted a Rockhopper penguin at London Zoo on his eighth birthday. Sadly, Roxy the Rockhopper penguin met an untimely end when an urban fox managed to get into the penguin enclosure at London zoo. Luke was devastated.
What can we do to protect Luke’s beloved penguins in the wild, well out of the reach of Mr. Fox? How can we make sure that other little boys or girls with Rob Swan’s dreams can follow the footsteps of Scott in coming years?
Global warming is threatening their opportunity. Antarctica is warming in the West and in the Antarctic Peninsula. Warmer winds caused by human-induced climate change create melt water that destabilises ice sheets and creates more sea ice. Many of Antarctica’s ice sheets also act as a barrier that protect the continental land ice mass from slipping into the sea. So loss of ice sheets might mean that melting could accelerate in future. That would be a major problem because of the loss of habitat and impacts on ocean currents – and would also lead to significant rising sea levels, over time.
Balancing this warming in the West, East Antarctica has been cooling because of strengthening winds over the Southern Ocean which prevent warmer, moist maritime air reaching the ice. Westerly circumpolar vortex winds which shield Eastern ice are caused by the hole in the ozone layer. That hole creates winds at stratospheric altitudes (a difference of -15°C). However, this is a temporary effect with the ozone layer predicted to have returned to 1980 levels by 2070. The net effect is that today Antarctica is cooling as a continent, but warming will become prevalent across Antarctica when the ozone layer fully recovers.
Antarctica is different from the Arctic because sea ice in the North Polar region does not have the shield of winds seen in the South, and the North is also easily accessed by warmer waters. However, we now see evidence of warming of the Southern Ocean too. For example, warm water is melting Pine Island Glacier from beneath. So we can expect to lose more and more ice as this century progresses.
Scientists have shown that breeding success of penguins is already impacted by changes in snowfall and sea ice. For example, the numbers of Adélie penguin breeding pairs have fallen from 15,000 to under 5,000 since 1975. Meanwhile Gentoo penguin pairs have grown rapidly since the 1990s. This is because of the changing nature of the ice present. Some penguins will eventually lose their habitat, while others may thrive. As the ocean warms and sea ice shrinks then the organic nutrient for marine life, krill, will decline too. That will mean iconic species like fur seals, penguins and albatross will find it more difficult to bear young. Plants will flourish in areas where they could not before. Overall, the balance of nature will move towards species suited for a warmer climate.
Looking to the future, the International Panel of Climate Change scientists projects warming over 3°C by 2100 and sea ice declining 33%. West Antarctica’s ice sheet could discharge enough ice to raise sea level up to two metres which would flood many coastal cities. A warmer Antarctica would be a very different Antarctica. It would be a more hospitable continent in some ways, but that would be at the cost of its unique character and irreplaceable value to the world.
It is vital that society and political leaders understand the impact of global climate change, appreciate the abundant scientific evidence, and act now before it is too late. We must work together to stop global warming in Antarctica. Let’s keep the dreams alive of little boys and girls who wish to trek to the South Pole, for all our children, for ourselves, and for Luke and his penguins.
“High mountains, covered with snow”
“High mountains, covered with snow” was the first recorded description of the Antarctic Peninsula, logged by British expedition leader, Edward Bransfield in 1820. The northernmost part of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula, breaches above the Antarctic Circle making it the most visited area by early explorers. A bitter debate was endured in the nineteenth century between the British and American champions, each claiming primacy of their discovery. British explorer Edward Bransfield wished to claim and name the peninsula, Graham Land; however, this name was challenged by American seal hunter Nathaniel Palmer who appealed he was the first to sight the area calling it Palmer Land. In 1964 the US-ACAN and UK-APC resolved this long standing conflict by dividing the area with a line between Cape Jeremy and Cape Agassiz. Northward of this line is now considered Graham Land and southward is Palmer Land.
Despite its contentious history the Antarctic Peninsula continues to be the most visited area of this untameable continent: it has the mildest climate and generally is the least icebound during the summer. With a vast array of wildlife and vegetation, the Antarctic Peninsula is home to countless forms of whales, penguins, and many other large seabirds like the wandering Albatross with a wingspan of over 3 metres. The diversity of the frozen continent is often underestimated, or even considered non-existent, however the penguin colonies a million strong may have something to say about that.
Rocking on the Drake Passage gazing out to the open ocean, cameras are flashing, animal sightings have begun and the excitement within the team is heightening. Listening to each individuals journey and strive to get on board with 2041 IAE creates a unique unity within the team and brings joy to all knowing you will witness together the untouched beauty of the Antarctic.
Goodnight Drake Passage, Good morning…. ANTARCTICA!
I still can not comprehend that we are officially sailing through Antarctic waters around the most desolate – and in my opinion, most magnificent – continent on this Earth. Even now having spotted my first iceberg and watched the penguins joyfully frolicking on the shoreline it seems surreal. I feel as though I have somehow found my way into a David Attenborough documentary, although I am really not complaining.
We have spent much of the day staring excitedly out the window and braving the bitterly cold Antarctic winds on deck to glimpse a breaching whale or snap a passing iceberg as we head along the Antarctic Peninsula. It is impossible to express the moment when you see your first Antarctic iceberg; it is almost as exciting as when you first come within five metres of a penguin. Unbelievably we have been fortunate enough to experience both of these moments within the last twenty four hours. I awoke early this morning, happening to glance outside into the dawning day and there, on the horizon I spotted a small, yet identifiable white mass steadily growing larger. It was a breath-taking moment, as I sat mesmerised by the rich contrast between the pure white of the ice in the deep blue-black ocean. After the first sighting, icebergs began appearing all around the ship, and before we knew it the P.A system was announcing “land ahoy!” We dressed in as much clothing as humanly possibly and all piled into small rubber boats for our first zodiac ride. Although for some of us not even four layers of thick clothing was enough to keep out the cold Antarctic chill, all complaints were forgotten when we landed at Mikkelsen Harbour ready to meet the resident Gentoo penguins and Fur seals. We spent many hours enjoying the company of our new furry friends and taking in the beautiful icy surrounds, yet all too soon we were summonsed back to the boats to leave. I clambered into the zodiac only after being promised that we would see many more penguins in the days to come.
Despite the huge differences of all on board, Antarctica has worked it’s way into each and every one of us and unwittingly brought us all together as one. I have heard numerous times in books, documentaries and from first hand accounts that Antarctica changes people, but I never expected it to be so sudden and complete. I understand now why people have been repeatedly drawn to this great southern land and fight so incredibly hard for the conservation of Antarctica and it’s wildlife. It is both deadly and beautiful, empty and abundant, desolate and alive. Antarctica truly is like no other place in the world. The pure beauty and tranquility of this continent inspires hope in us all that we may still have a chance at saving our planet if we are willing to try. One day all of our hard work will pay off because in the end isn’t it worth it if the rest of Earth is just as half as spectacular and pristine as this one continent?
Coming to America
In addition to many memorable lines, the movie “Coming to America” offers this touching exchange:
Lisa McDowell: “So why did you come here?”
Prince Akeem: “To find something special.”
Lisa McDowell: “It’s a long way to travel.”
Prince Akeem: “No journey is too great when one finds what he seeks.”
Today, we got our first glimpse of the great White Continent. The first Antarctic icebergs were sighted, as we arrived on the South Shetland Islands. After two days, our 800 kilometer (500 mile) journey across the Drake Passage, known as the roughest waters in the world, has come to an end.
The movie “Coming to America” came to mind because of two conversations in the last day. At breakfast this morning, a ship attendant came by our table to offer toast. His deep and smooth “radio voice” solicited a comment from fellow traveler Lillian Moremi*, “Doesn’t his voice remind you of the King [Jaffe Joffer] from the movie Coming to America”? We all laughed in agreement.
At lunch yesterday, Rob Swan talked about a possible move for him to the United States later this year. He thinks this may be the year that the U.S. acts on climate change. And he wants to be there to support it. Indeed, in recent speeches, President Obama has stated that addressing climate change will be a priority for his second administration. We have also seen increasing conversation in Washington, D.C. on the idea of a federal carbon tax.
For the past three years, Rob has lived and worked in China and India. The many Chinese and Indian participants on our expedition are a direct result of his efforts in those countries. He has focused on these countries as they are important players in the global climate dialogue. According to the International Energy Agency, China and India were responsible for 70% of the CO2 emissions growth during the period 2000-2010.
As we begin to explore Antarctica, I reflect on how my journey in life has been a long one: from the hot banana plantations in the tropics to the cool canals of The Netherlands. I also consider whether now is the time to come back to “America” to work on climate change. If enough of us are there, perhaps we can help create something special…
Perhaps, this great frontier continent will whisper some answers for me…
Photo caption: My first iceberg sighting in the Antarctic Ocean.
* Lillian Moremi is from Botswana and may be the first woman from that country to visit Antarctica. She is a coordinator for the Ducere School Improvement Programme.
Last stop before the drake!
Where we are going!
Saving Antarctica to Save Ourselves.
What is it that inspires normally sensible adults to travel from all corners of our world to visit the most southerly, empty, frozen desert on the planet? Why do they work so incredibly hard to raise funds needed to make that journey, and then suffer inevitable seasickness crossing the roughest ocean passage in the world so that they can battle with bone chilling winds and frost-bitten temperatures of the white continent?
Is it because Antarctica is a clean, quiet and pristine environment where you can look to the night sky and see the cloudy stars of the Milky Way extending 10,000 light years above your head? Is it because you can see a humpback whale breach its massive barnacled tail within touching distance of your fingers, or because penguins in their dinner jackets busily scurry around your feet, oblivious to your presence? Or is it the majesty of soaring ice cliffs glistening crushed diamond blues as they plunge into oceans rich with life?
The inspiration differs for each of us but what unites the members of the IAE 2013 expedition, and all those who have taken part over the last ten years, is the knowledge that we must cherish and preserve Antarctica if humanity is to have a sustainable future.
Antarctica is the vital global thermostat that regulates the Earth’s climate system. The ice sheets reflect heat, which cools the planet, and the dark polar ocean absorbs heat from the sun and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This coldest continent is also the Earth’s memory. Its ice encases 800,000 years of planetary knowledge covering eight glacial periods with intervening warm periods. Antarctic ice cores help scientists to understand what is happening with climate change today, and what the future may bring. Antarctica is also essential to the global ocean ecosystem too with nutrients exported north providing 75% of global ocean productivity.
If we are to ensure a safe operating space for humanity then Antarctica must be conserved. But around the world ocean heat content is rising, global temperature anomalies are increasing, and sea levels creeping upwards. Ice cores drilled in Antarctica tell us that sea levels during interglacial periods could have been 6 to 9 metres higher than today and the great ice sheets may be more vulnerable than we thought. The stunning loss of the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica in 2002 reminds us of this threat.
The temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has also risen by almost 3°C in the past 50 years (ten times the global average) causing some of the smaller ice shelves to melt in 2006, and wildlife to suffer and migrate. Rising temperature is of great concern. Antarctica holds some 70% of the freshwater on the planet. If that were to melt it would be catastrophic for many of the world’s coastal cities.
Antarctica is the best of humanity too. No one owns it. There are no guns needed. Thirty countries operate research stations in Antarctica in harmony, under the Antarctic Treaty. The people on this expedition want that to continue. We wish to make sure the world continues to preserve and to protect Antarctica when the treaty expires in 2041. We want to be the best of humanity, to make sure that we save Antarctica because it is likely that by doing so we are also saving ourselves and future generations.
Team Leader Profile: Kyle O’Donoghue
Kyle O’Donoghue, expedition cameraman, has plied his trade as a freelance cameraman and director for the past 10 years. His adventures have taken him down the last unpaddled tributary of the Amazon the Rio Maranon, in search of a lost underwater city in Zanzibar and deep into the rain forests of Central Africa to film gorillas. Kyle is an avid rock climber and mountaineer and for the past three years has been filming an attempt to paraglide off all the seven summits. He has shot for National Geographic, Channel 4, PBS and SuperSport as well as edited a number of documentaries for broadcast. This is Kyles’ 11th Expedition with 2041 and Robert Swan. Two days after the expedition he will be in the Canadian Arctic to film a 72 day sledding and kiting expedition on Ellesmere Island.
Above- Footage from previous expeditions by Kyle
Laying the foundation
Antarctic departure day!
Today we set sail for the last untouched wilderness on earth: Antarctica.
After two days of training in Ushuaia we are finally on our way to the great southern continent.
After some more safety training this morning about life on a ship out to sea, we were ready to board our vessel, the Sea Spirit.
There was a buzz in the air as the hour of our departure drew nearer and the excitement and anticipation grew.
Once at the port I began to finally realise that I was going to Antarctica with all of the other wonderful team members and youth ambassadors.
The ship itself is a beautiful vessel and there were squeals of delight as we boarded and realised that that our expectations had been completely blown away from what we had been expecting.We all stood on the deck and watched as the ship pulled away from the shore and I felt wistful for the mountains that surround Ushuaia as we left, I knew the next time we saw land would be in Antarctica.As Robert said as we pulled away from the port in Ushuaia, we are leaving behind civilisation!This means that we will be cut off from the rest of the world for the next 10 days, no mobile phones or internet and therefore nothing to distract us from witnessing Antarctica and living in the moment.
Tonight we cross the famous Drake Passage, an ocean crossing with a fearful reputation for testing even the hardiest sailors.
So far though we have had smooth sailing and hopefully the drake is kind to us on our crossing.
Hopefully in the next day and a half I will be able to peer through my cabin window and declare ‘Land A’hoy, we are in Antarctica!’
Crossing the Drake
We are going today to Antarctica, and it requires crossing the Drake Passage. Before our departure, it has been mentioned several times that the weather and sea conditions can change very instantly in the Drake Passage. The stormy seas and icy conditions made the passage one of the roughest stretch of water in the world. Again it occurred to me that no story of a destination is complete without recounting the process of getting there, and I decided to do some research to understand why the Drake Passage has such a notorious reputation.
The Drake Passage is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn and the northernmost reaches of Antarctica. It is named after the English navigator Sir Francis Drake (born 1540-43, died in1596).
The Drake Passage has an average depth of about 3,400 meters with deeper regions of up to 4,800 meters near the northern and southern boundaries. The passage spans about 800 km between the west Antarctic Peninsula and the southern tip of South America, and it is the narrowest stretch of water in the southern ocean. Thus, the winds are increased as they are constricted through the narrow channel between the Andes Mountains and Antarctic Peninsula, and in the process, generate complicated and unpredictable weather. Furthermore, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (an ocean current that flows clockwise from west to east around Antarctica) squeezes through the Drake Passage speeding up and creating powerful eddies. Combine these factors; it is easy to see why the Drake Passage has such a notorious reputation. I am looking forward to being there.
Figure 1: The Drake Passage is a strait between South America and the South Shetland Islands, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (National Oceanography Centre,2011) (Credits:http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/o4s/cn/orc011/orc011_bg.php)
The Golden Key
It was a spectacular day, full of unforgettable moments and finally ended up with a special achievment. Though it was our first time together and we never met before, somehow, we were here in the world’s most southern city in the world (Ushuaia) and guess what? We went up hills all the way hiking on the Martial Glacier! Superior!
We had an unbelievable harmony as a one well-connected team, listening to each other, supporting the team spirit and keeping everything run as smooth as possible just to successfully achieve the task and we did.
I am so thankful to every single person’s will, passion and trust that turned all challenges we had into just a simple reality.
It was a really day to remember especially that I never done any climbing mountains exercise before but it still made a difference in my life as I am sure it did to everyone else.
I can tell, that was just the golden key to the White Continent, Antarctica!
Amal Al Saffar
Kingdom of Bahrain
The Martial Challenge
Day one of change
“You will never look at a map the same way ever again”. These were the words that Robert Swan opened the first day of the 2041 Program. Words that really made me realise that this the beginning of a new worldview – both metaphorically and literally.
After 7 months of hard and stubborn work, after the eager search for sponsors and support, after I managed to convince myself that the 14 meter waves won’t stand in the way of my dream, I am finally here. Along with everyone else, each one of them have had to face their own challanges and obstacles.
He continued talking about how we are going to combine sustainability and leadership. Because the two of them together – just like any cute couple – can lead to a greater change. And that is why we are all here for. Besides the 2041 leaders that will share their knowledge with us, we will also have two change-experts aboard (how cool is not that to have as your title!).
So who am I? I am an environmental journalist and have a book coming up about Antarctica and how we can help preserve it. I want to take this issue and make it something that people can relate to and make them inspired to take action. Unfortunately I often feel alone back home when it comes to environmental caring but today I found myself among 80 people, all equally passionate about this matter as I am. A fact that made me feel as excited as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve… high on Ecstasy!
In two days we will leave Ushuaia and set sail for a place that will be the birth of our individual change. A place that keeps all the memory of our planets climate. A place that has promised to take everyones breath away.
Antarctica, here we come!
Martial Glacier…and snow?
Today we put our rope skills and our teamwork to practice…..and what a day it was!
Getting up in the morning and seeing your team all there ready and excited just does something to you….the team spirit is something amazing, it gives you a different kind of energy!
The ride to the glacier was stunning, seeing the beagle channel behind you and snow ridden mountains up ahead is surreal, and then you get to the trek. This expedition has been a constant state of ‘it can’t get better, oh…its better’ and today hasn’t been any different.
One of my favourite pass time activities is trekking, and it works when the team clicks and leadership is given and taken all around and that’s what this whole day was meant to be. To prepare us to show leadership skills, develop the ability to step down and to help and assist each other through a challenging trek being tied to 6 other people and walking in one pace is more challenging that it sounds!
You need patience and compromise, you need to constantly keep an eye on your team and help who you can. After all, you aren’t trekking solo; you all are trekking as one.
Then we got to the top, the glacier was stunning and the view was amazing, but then we got our first contact with what we came to change. The snow is not as thick anymore, and it’s become shy and dropped back into the background.
Those who were hoping to have their first snowball fight got disappointed. More seriously, these glaciers are what the people in Ushuaia use for water.
It’s one thing hearing/reading about an issue (as you are right now), it’s a totally different thing when you see it right in front of you.
You get much more motivated to do something…..and being tied to a great passionate bunch of individuals just gives you more fuel!
Sunrise over Ushuaia
Today, the sun arose over Ushuaia at 6:56 a.m. It was a glorious moment and warming moment.
I love sunrises. I prefer them over sunsets. Contrary to what some people think, I don’t get up for sunrises just to see the golden light. I look for the silence that accompanies this time of the day. The lack of noise stills my mind and offers clarity. I generally do my best thinking at this time.
Today’s activities for the 2041 expedition were a sort of sunrise for me. Listening to Rob, Kyle, Gareth and the rest of our expedition leaders reflect on their life journeys was inspiring. I saw their humanity: where they had been, what they had done, how they had failed and conquered, and where they wanted to go. Their stories made me reflect about where I am and who I am, today. How did I get here: not just to Ushuaia, but to this point in my life… and where could I be in 10 days and 10 years time.
The noise from my work is beginning to quiet as I begin this journey to the Antarctic. I can’t say that clarity has emerged yet, but I suspect it will. It just may take a few more sunrises.
Mi amanecer en Ushuaia (1 de marzo del 2013)
Hoy la salida del sol ocurrió a las 6:56 a.m. sobre Ushuaia. Fue un momento glorioso que me lleno de calor.
Me encantan los amaneceres. Yo los prefiero sobre las puestas de sol. Algunos creen que me levanto temprano solo para ver la luz dorada del amanecer. Pero no lo es así. Más bien, yo busco el silencio que acompaña estas pocas horas del día. La falta de ruido me calma la mente y me da claridad. Para mí, es el mejor momento del día para pensar.
Hoy día, las actividades de la expedición de 2041 fueron una tipo de amanecer para mí. Escuchar a Rob, Kyle, Gareth y el resto de los líderes de la expedición reflexionar sobre sus viajes por la vida fue inspirador. Vi la humanidad en cada uno de ellos: dónde han estado, que es lo que han hecho, cómo han fracasado y vencido, y donde quieren ir. Sus historias me pusieron a reflexionar sobre quién soy yo, hoy en día. Cómo es que he llegado hasta aquí: no sólo a Ushuaia, si no a estas alturas de mi vida… y donde podría estar en 10 días… y en 10 años.
El ruido del trabajo se está comenzando a callar. Ya casi estoy listo para nuestro viaje a la Antártida. No puedo decir que tengo claridad absoluta, pero espero que algo aparezca en los próximos días. Quizás me va a tomar unos pocos amaneceres más.
Nurturing Innovation to Save our Planet
Millions of people still today have no access to basic services such as clean water, healthcare, electricity or education. Luckily this trend is slowly turning as more people, specially in emerging countries join the growing middle class. Unfortunately, until now the only way for countries to develop and advance is to consume and pollute, this must change.
As emerging countries develop we have a golden opportunity to innovate and generate efficient, low cost and sustainable energy, health, education and transportation solutions that can be scaled to millions of people. In National Instruments, we believe these solutions will come from engineers that have the know-how to design entirely new systems and understand the local constraints and requirements.
I work in the Planet NI Program, and through this program we aim to support the innovators in emerging countries working to generate viable solutions that will support their economic development while preserving the planet we all share.
I am excited not only to experience nature in the Antarctic and challenge myself but also looking forward to meeting and learning from team members around the world working on similar projects and programs.
New skills, new faces- hike preparation!
The AYAP program
It’s totally surreal to be back in Ushuaia again, as I stepped off the plane and breathed in the cold, clean, crisp air, hundreds of memories came flooding back. I saw the 2041 team and this years participants and suddenly I felt a strong sense of home. I was returning to Antarctica, a place that had totally opened my eyes, slapped me in the face and changed the way I view this climate problem.
It’s been two years since I was on the IAE 2011 expedition where I met Swati Hingorani the co-founder of the Antarctic Youth Ambassadors Programme (AYAP). Here we realised that in 2041 when the Antarctic treaty is up for renewal we will be just 55 years old, and that as young people we have an incredible responsibility but also opportunity to have the greatest impact on it’s protection.
Our vision for the AYAP is to bring together incredible young leaders from around the world, to form a coalition of young people who will carry forward the Antarctic legacy and work to protect the continent.
The program aboard the ship focuses on two key areas:
- Skills sharing within the group; how to run a campaign or do community outreach. Also included are discussions about historical responsibility and ecosystems, wildlife and development.
- Project Development – channelling the inspiration of Antarctica into action. Participants will plan their project aboard the ship and leave with a complete timeline and next steps.
The AYAP program is entwined with the IAE 2013 ‘Leadership on the Edge’ program to engage, inspire and motivate over 30 young people to implement powerful and effective change within their communities when they return.
We’re incredibly excited to be launching this program, and can’t wait to share all our project ideas with you when we return.
Art of the Antarctic
In 1818 John Symmes JR, expanded on previous thinking to theorize a “hollow earth”. He proposed the poles concealed a labyrinthine other world, possibly inhabited by a utopian alien race, accessible though the Arctic and Antarctic regions. He was not the first person to extend his fantasies to the great southern unknown, nor the most wild. The enigma he touched on has not been so easily dispelled, even after the first visitors begun to lay eyes on the ice, and send back reports.
Whalers and sealers, encountering icebergs larger than houses as they ventured further and further south brought the first whispers and imaginings. Half seen shapes and forms, creatures weird and implacable, ice so vast it could only be landmass- yet was not. Through the likes of John Symmes JR and the author Edgar Allan Poe (who wrote of dark skin reptiles inhabiting the poles), Antarctica was imagined long before it was ever seen, and such visions are not so easily unstuck however surreal they make of the mundane.
For early expeditions, artists were as much cartographers as visual experts. Employed to map and document, record scientifically and translate the alien to the tangible for the armchair explorers who had facilitated the expensive business of Antarctic voyages. Books, films, photographs were all served up the satisfy sponsors. Water colours (topographical and imaginary), etchings, oil paints, lithographs, engravings and more recently digital photography and film. Despite the requirements of expeditions, which up until quite recently provided a rigid brief for the artists they employed many went beyond their bounds.
The enigmatic Frank Hurly, who accompanied Shackleton on the Endurance, produced wildly romantic snowscapes of South Georgia. Joseph Hookers produced botanical illustrations that are not only informative and accurate but display a passionate appreciation for subtleties of form. Charles T Harrison, a biologist who accompanied Mawson in 1911 returned with a sketchbook of pastel drawings made with a reductive sense of space that speak easily of Antarctica’s minimalistic landscape with a combination of empiricism and abstraction. The visual language of Antarctica is still infantile but increasingly its message is imperative to understand. Beyond the idealistic landscape and fluffy penguins there is a serious message, and if its missed, we may never hear it again.
Gear checks and new faces: Jason Flesher
76 people arrived from 28 countries throughout the day. As they arrived my day was spent doing kit checks of the team members. This entails going through all their gear and clothing to make sure they have efficient items for the expedition that will keep them safe and warm. Ushuaia is the last chance to purchase any last minute critical items.
This also allowed me to spend time with the team members and briefly get to know them prior to the start tomorrow. It is such a wonderful honor to meet such a diverse group of individuals and cultures from all over the world with the same mission and purpose in mind – to understand first hand the effects of climate change on the world and to go home and make a difference and changes in their part of the world.
Tomorrow the expedition begins with a series of lectures, discussion and in the afternoon I will spend a couple of hours introducing rope skills for glacier team travel, clothing layering and a hiking brief for the following day.
The expedition’s Team Leaders who come from all over the world as well, is the best of the best in what we do and the various roles we fill. There are 12 of us that have all become a family of close friends over the years and all have intricate role in making such an expedition of this size work for such a diverse group of people and cultures.
Welcome to Ushuaia
Jason Flesher: Head Guide
Playing on top of 23,000-foot peaks or exploring the labyrinths 1,500 feet below the surface of the earth, Jason has been passionate about the outdoors since he could walk.
He is the Sierra Outdoor Programs Market Manager for REI, Experiential Facilitator and Wilderness Instructor educating diverse groups of all ages and backgrounds in over twenty countries on all seven continents and throughout the United States.
Jason has been written up in numerous publications over the years for his work. He was featured in The New York Times, Readers Digest, Outfitter, Climbing and the National Speleological Society magazines to name only a few.
An experienced Search and Rescue manger, Mountain Rescue Coordinator and is also a Rescue Specialist for the international 1st Special Response Group.
Living and working with Indigenous cultures and studying Native American religions, Jason has an acute understanding of the spiritual side of wilderness. “An adventure is not of the physical, it is of the mind.” This is Jason’s 5th expedition with 2041.
I’ve been working on the Antarctic Peninsula since 2009, but my relationship with the great southern land started long before I was born in 1986. A young newly wed couple from London are sailing a converted north sea trawler “The Southern Quest” into the most remote wilderness on earth, with almost zero maritime experience and 26 other mad men and women to keep them company. Meet my parents. They are the support crew for the polar explorer Robert Swan, and are preparing to collect the successful walkers on their return from a bid at the South Pole following in the footsteps Scott. It took the team 90 days man-hauling sledges, after overwintering near the Ross Sea, in the East Antarctic.
Crucial weather updates were never received and a change in the wind resulted in the crew watching as their home disappeared into the inky black polar waters along with the $25,000 rescue fund and my parents wedding photos. The only redeeming thing about having your ship crushed in pack ice is you can stand on it to get some great footage, and wait for help.
(left) The Southern Quests bow disappears beneath the ice.
When the highest mast of the Southern Quest slipped under those same cold waters, to the grim amusement of the stranded survivors, Adelie penguins begun launching themselves out of the hole left in the ice looking relieved. Seconds later it became obvious why as a pod of Killer Whales hunting them surfaced. As well timed as the misfortune of my parents was for the penguins, it highlighted a lesson I’ve learnt myself. There is no malice in the Antarctic. This place isn’t trying to kill you. It is just totally and utterly indifferent to you. Just ask Scott, trapped in his tent by a blizzard waiting to die, or Ninnis, Mawsons loyal companion, resting forever at the bottom of a crevasse. With the faceless Antarctic winds whipping at my Gore-Tex jacket, I don’t envy the reindeer and canvas used by early expeditioners.
It’s a tough comparison to draw. The romantic era explorers in their wooden hulled sailboats with frozen hands and only an idea where they were and what they were in for. Even our powerful ship and experienced crew it’s impossible not to feel a bit adventurous, as you leave the Benign Beagle Channel and head into the notorious Drake Passage.
It’s worth it. The Antarctic is totally unique, the only place on earth with no native inhabitants, the only place not owned, divided and exploited. It is a wilderness unbroken by man. The crew of the southern quest payed a heavier tax than most, but equally they received a real understanding of what it means to be in a place outside of a tamed existence. Of course I wouldn’t be writing this if they hadn’t been rescued by the US Coastguard and safely flown to McMurdo station. Despite 25 years of technology and experience the dangers are real. As the crew and passengers of capsized vessel Explorer in 2007 learnt. Having to be rescued from the ice in chilling similar circumstances to the Southern Quest.
Now we stand on the brink of another expedition and excitement is tempered with patience. The Antarctic is a truly stunning destination, but one that must be truly respected. If it isn’t you might not come back with your ship, or at all
The capsized vessel Explorer (Credit: Fuerza Aerea de Chile via European Pressphoto Agency)
Excitement Grows- Wissam Rammo
I never thought that I would have the opportunity to visit Antarctica. When I shared news about my trip to Antarctica to my colleagues at work, they were genuinely puzzled. They didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to such a cold and hostile place.
My excitement grows as I get to realize that it is now only one week till the expedition to Antarctica starts. Antarctica has always fascinated me due to my interest in human spaceflight research program. The harsh environment of Antarctica provides an appropriate environment in which to conduct preliminary researches that are likely to be faced on long-duration human missions in space. Now, I realize that is going to take me only few days and I am going to be there.
At this point, I cannot express enough gratitude to my family and friends. The support has been just incredible. I have to thank you all, without you guys, many things would have been difficult.
As I’m passionate about coming up with sustainable solutions, I am very grateful to be part of the expedition. I am looking forward to meeting the team members, hearing their stories, and to work towards a sustainable future, climate change and Antarctica protection.
Be there in just a few days!
What can we learn from Antarctica?
Robert Swan looks forward to the arrival of the 2013 Team where they will join Robert, our Expedition Leader, Gareth Wood and the 2041 Leaders. They will be challenged on what they can learn from Antarctica about leadership and sustainability. See you soon!
Make Going Green Cool- Vikram Gupta
Every journey is unique, every effort different. Yet that is the beauty of contributing towards a common cause with our individual ways. And if anything, my journey till now has been a crash course of sorts.
I came to know of 2041 in August last year after a talk by Paras Loomba (IAE 2012) for our running group. And so, exhausted after a Saturday midnight run event, and mildly high on a couple pints, I was mesmerized by the footage on display. It seemed like what I had been really waiting for. The next step forward. A way to bring together all the experiences as a backpacker, engineer and an avid supporter of green energy. What better place than Antarctica. What better company than the AYAP.
Oh the joy when I got the nod to come on board! But that is when the hard part really began. Was running very low on time but not going was never an option. Presentations, emails, meetings, alumni outreach – the next couple of months flew by. Eventually it all came together.
So excited to have India’s largest travel firm, MakeMyTrip, as a sponsor and excited to showcase the WakaWakas to the AYAP team. WakaWakas are unique in that they are simple, efficient, sleek and make going green Cool! They are the inexpensive, rugged, durable solar-powered lights that can replace kerosene lamps in Impact Countries. As an NGO, the Waka Waka team is lighting up Haiti for free, to help them recover from the natural disasters. One of their latest prototype is going to the North Pole for testing this year. It is only fitting that the other is coming with us!
It’s time now to let a journey begin in Ushuaia. To make friends and explore new lands. To pledge and commit towards saving this last great wilderness on Earth, one step at a time.
Fostering Growth- Amelia Telford
I feel pretty silly having to say, “Sorry I can’t make it to your event, I’ll be in Antarctica”, but with only five more sleeps until the physical journey to reach the frozen wilderness begins, I guess silliness is to be expected. I say physical journey because the emotional journey began months ago, when I was filling out the application form for the 2041 AYAP, crossing my fingers in hope that I would be selected as a part of the team.
It’s incredible how a positive mind frame attracts positive outcomes and opportunities. Over the last few months, I have been overwhelmed by the many obstacles that have been overcome by a friend, family member or friend of a friend who just happened to have a couple spare polar fleeces in their cupboard, or a compact, duck down sleeping bag tucked away waiting to be used again, or that bit of ‘spare change’ that helped me get across the line and most bizarrely, a neighbor who will be flying in to Buenos Aires on the same day as me. In the midst of high school graduation, university acceptance, Christmas and three jobs, I attempted to maintain sanity by telling myself that everything was just going to fall into place – and it did, it has.
Although I feel that the journey so far has been incredibly fast-paced and at times gruelingly challenging, while I am here packing and preparing myself, I have managed to take the time to sit, breathe and attempt to imagine what it is going to feel like when the first iceberg comes into our sight or even better, how I am going to feel when I take my first step on to the Antarctic ice. But having never even been to the snow, it’s quite difficult to really know how I will feel.
Although I won’t be bringing home any penguins, snow, or even polar bears for that matter(it’s incredible how many jaws have dropped when I have told people that polar bears are only from the Arctic), I can promise to embrace every opportunity, every knowledge and wisdom-filled fellow and especially every challenge with an open mind, for I know that this phenomenal experience will and already has fostered growth in me, as a young and indigenous environmental activist. I just can’t wait to share these experiences with the other team members.
“I am going to Antarctica” -Bandanjot Singh
Working in the capital of India, New Delhi , I occasionally get to go home in Amritsar which lies is in the Northern State of Punjab. But this time, I still discretely remember, I was going home with news that my parents wouldn’t have expected to hear. I took a breath full of enthusiasm and told them,” I am going to Antarctica”. The reactions were mixed, happiness about the journey and curiosity about what lies ahead, but since then it has one heck of a ride.
The last three months have been all about short-listing the right kind of organizations that would support me on this expedition. These are the times when you realize that how important part your network plays in times of need. The fundraising was a litmus test for a fairy tale journey that was about to happen. I’d been working on green energy projects partly because of my job and partly because of my passion and the journey to Antarctica was a perfect addition to my curiosity about nature and my efforts to save it.
Going to Antarctica is important for me not only because of the kind of leadership experience I would get and the people I would meet on the journey , but also because there are a billion others in my country who could possibly get inspired to care about the planet, through my journey. This makes it all the more important for me to come back to the country and spread the message about adopting green procedures within commercial as well as domestic environments.
Lastly, being the first Sikh on such an Expedition to Antarctica has brought in immense support from my community both morally and financially. I look forward to making it an experience of a lifetime. Now that we are just 9 days away, I like to relate these last days to the marathons that I run: When you’ve run so many miles already, all you look forward to is raising those arms up in the air and cheering for yourself that you’ve made it!
Feeling More Real- Eimear Carlin
“Bring me back a penguin!!!” was yelled across a Dublin Bus at me last week, by someone I have never met in my life. Hypothetically, if I were to do this for every person that has asked me over the last 20 weeks, there would be none left in Antarctica!
In nine days, I will be setting off for a life defining trip to Antarctica and to be honest, it has not sunk in yet, at all. The tickets are booked, the gear has been tried on, the words have passed my mouth a million times “I am going to the Antarctic” and yet it doesn’t seem real.
I have always been obsessed with all things polar. Growing up, I thought I would have to be an engineer, pilot, scientist or a doctor to get to experience these places, but at 23 I found myself sitting on a plane, on my own, flying into the 24 hour darkness to Inuvik in the Canadian Arctic to work as a bartender in a place where I knew nobody and had no idea what to expect. Many months later, on my last day up there, a local whispered to me “This place will stick to you forever, you will think of the Arctic every single day of your life” and he was not wrong. The stunning, fragile landscape, wildlife, and amazing people I met there have stayed with me, and magnified my passion for protecting our polar regions. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would get the opportunity to go South.
The past 20 weeks of fundraising have been an immensely steep learning curve I have already learned such important lessons, on the ground, running, at a million miles an hour. From Day One, the support from my friends has been incredible. They proof-read, reread, and reread again my initially disastrous project proposals, and gave me tips for approaching businesses for sponsorship. They passed my press release to contacts and spread the word of my project in whatever way they could.
I have been INCREDIBLY lucky with my sponsors also. From the outset they have shown amazing support and faith in the project. Ireland has been through such a tough ride over the last five years and funding is not easy to come by. For every 50 businesses I approached, I probably received 3 responses. This made me more resilient, and determined to succeed and to keep trying. One thing that has struck me is the generosity of Irish businesses to help you in any way they can, if they weren’t in a position to help financially, they gave their time, ideas, prizes for raffles, clothing, flags, penguin biscuits by the hundred (!) and extra batteries for my camera.
I have lived and breathed this project for 20 weeks now, and to be so close to departure is invigorating. I feel like I am already good friends with some of the other AYAP members, and the excitement of finally meeting these like-minded friends with shared passions, who have shown such support and encouragement through the fundraising stage, is amazing. Ok, now it’s starting to feel more real! See you all soon!!
A Long Journey – Oli Wheeldon
Less than a month to go! It is impossible to describe how I am feeling at this point, so maybe it is easier to look at what has happened up to this point. I first made contact with 2041 in 2011 as a 16 year old aspiring photographer hoping to use my photography to help make a difference. They replied offering me a place on the expedition and how much it was going to cost. It made me take a step back, but of course I was so honored to be offered a place I had to tell everyone anyway. I was of course met by the usual negativity of ‘you’ll never do that’, ‘that’s impossible’. Which was good, because it only drove me forward more. However not only did I have a very short time to raise the money, but because of AS exams coming up I was going to have very little time to get some serious fundraising done!
So when it came to the summer I tried to knuckle down and get it done, but unfortunately due to the economic times, it was very hard to get funding support from anyone.
The time came when I had to make the decision, pay the deposit for the trip, or wait another year and have more time for fundraising. I decided on the latter, as there was no way I would be able to raise the majority of the funds in a month or so’s time. So then there I was, in my final year, following the blog of IAE 2012 wishing I was there, but at the same time knowing it was an unrealistic dream…
I didn’t let it stop me though, the fact that my friends had been right only spurred me further and I continued to raise money and try and find sponsors any which way I could. Throughout my A2s and the summer after I continued to try and spread my plea and in doing so, was offered the opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Because of my burning passion to merge the arts with education people about the environment.
Carrying the torch was another great motivator for me as it came with a strong message about being able to achieve anything we want. In 2008 watching the Beijing Olympics I wanted to be a Torchbearer, and in 2011 when I saw the design of the 2012 Torch, I wanted nothing more than to have my own Olympic Torch. So whenever I enter my study, and I see the Olympic Torch hanging on the wall above my desk, I know that that had taught me anything was possible.
So to now be writing that I managed to raise the money, and that I am going to Antarctica means so much more than just embarking on a great adventure. It means I have proved to myself once again, that if I put my mind to something, I can make it possible. I can admit that over the past two years I may not have been as focused as I could have been, but the experience of the past two years, from a 16 year old boy out of his depth, to an 18 year old packing his bags, I do not, and never will, regret any of it. I am eternally grateful to 2041 for this opportunity and making me the man I am today.
And of course I have to say something about all those that are supporting me on this mission, it sounds cliche but they really did make my dream a reality and it wouldn’t have been possible with out every single one of them being so generous and supportive. You know who you are, friends, family and all the amazing people I have met along the way, you are all heroes.
Oliver Wheeldon, www.antarctica2013.blogspot.com
Prepping for Departure- Morgan Pettersson
It is less than one month now until I will see the wild and untouched beauty of Antarctica for myself. I just finished watching a documentary about an expedition in the Arctic and I was getting chills watching the footage. Not because of the extreme cold, but because each time I heard a crunch of ice as the men walked across it or saw the white empty landscape I thought of Antarctica and the thought that I will soon be there witnessing similar landscapes. The reality of the journey and adventure that lay ahead of me is starting to sink in and in the last few days I have come to realise the little time that I have left until I depart. Insert freak out time! I luckily have most of my gear sorted thanks to a wonderful sponsor Mainpeak Australia who have kited me out, and the last few items I am going to hopefully borrow from friends. Unfortunately these turn out to be quite essential such as waterproof hiking boots….The only thing I am searching for to buy still is a good travel backpack as my old one has seen one too many adventures already.
The response from others towards the expedition have been varied, from complete shock and disbelief to unimaginable support and the kindest words. The support from family and friends has been wonderful but something that I am still speechless about is the support and kindness from complete strangers. People have never met or will never meet have lent their support towards me through kind words, helping to spread the word, their belief in the cause and sometimes through handing over their hard earned money to help fund my expedition. I really cant describe the feeling of having so many people behind you and supporting you and it makes all of the hard work finding sponsors and raising the funds worth it.
It is also starting to sink in the commitment that lays ahead. I am committed to the environment and to helping to protect Antarctica and this is a realisation that I am becoming more and more firm with each day. I am committed to working on an awareness raising project post the expedition and I am starting to feel nervous at the prospect of creating my own project with such a big goal.
This time next month I will be in Antarctica and I am starting to feel nervous and excited and a million feelings all at once. I can not wait to get down there and to meet all of the other youth ambassadors in person. I still have so much to do in the next month in terms of organising and getting ready to go and working full time, but if I wasn’t up for a challenge and the adventure I would never have applied for an experience like this!
Morgan Pettersson, 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassadors Program Expedition Member 2013
2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme
The 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme was founded by Gemma Borgo-Caratti and Swati Hingorani who attended the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition 2011. The vision of AYAP is to create an international youth coalition who will champion renewable energy as their path to protecting the continent.
Along side the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition, the AYAP curriculum is specifically geared towards young people and is aimed at creating a new generation of leaders. Under AYAP, young people have been selected from around the world to attend IAE 2013 where they will participate in the AYAP skill and capacity building programme.
When they return home, they will execute an on-ground project focused on a local environmental issue, conduct a series of education and awareness raising initiatives and participate in an international campaign around the year 2041 and the renewal of the Antarctic Treaty.
The AYAP will go beyond just giving young people information about climate change. It will be a structured curriculum aimed at developing young leaders and ensuring that each individual leaves the expedition with the skills, knowledge, confidence and motivation to implement powerful and effective change in their communities.
The only way to ensure that Antarctica is protected well into the next century is to make young people around the world understand the importance of the continent and inspire them to fight for its protection. It is these young people who will be the decision makers in the year 2041 when the moratorium on mining and drilling in the Antarctic is up for debate making them a key audience to influence today.
2041’s International Antarctic Expedition to Commence on February 28th 2013
2041, led by Founder and Polar Explorer, Robert Swan, OBE, is approaching a milestone in February, 10 years of International Antarctic Expeditions (IAE). This two-week journey, beginning on 28 February, will unite an international team of corporate leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, teachers, and students from various nations. Members will engage in Robert’s ‘Leadership on the Edge’ program; a powerful program for personal development and leadership.
A fundamental part of IAE 2013 aims to promote global collaboration with its carefully selected team. The voyage commences in Ushuaia, Argentina—the southernmost city in the world. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, the program regimen begins as soon as Team Members are greeted at the airport. The 2013 Expedition will be led by Gareth Wood and Robert Swan who once again are joining forces after their first expedition to the South Pole in 1989. Members will start with team building exercises as achieving peak performance requires team relationships begin strong and remain strong. Working cohesively, Team Members and Expedition Leaders will complete a hike up the Martial Glacier in Tierra del Fuego located just north of Ushuaia, along the Beagle Channel coast. This activity, amongst others, will lay the groundwork for a successful Expedition.
Onboard the Sea Spirit, Members will cross the historic Drake Passage, the body of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, until the pristine continent is reached. Alongside 2041’s Expedition Leaders, Team Members will have a chance to explore the Antarctic Peninsula where the natural landscape and wildlife behold the richness of the continent. Members will face the challenges of retaining effective organization and leadership in an unfamiliar environment. Team Members will learn about the continent’s fragile ecosystem, wildlife, in correlation with climate change and sustainable solutions.
Also onboard the Sea Spirit is 2041’s Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme, a project based curriculum. Selected from across the globe, AYAP Ambassadors join the expedition with a vision in mind- developing an innovative, community environmental plan. With an emphasis on youth-based curriculum, ambassadors will participate in the AYAP skills and capacity programme. Upon their return home, and over the course of a year, Ambassadors will implement their personalized project within their communities.
Overall, IAE 2013’s mission is to create ambassadors for education, the environment and sustainability across the globe. Members and Ambassadors develop leadership skills to educate others about the importance of using renewable energy technologies; thus, protecting the Antarctic and our planet.
Thank you to the Sahara Group
I wish to thank Harsh Sabale and the Sahara Group for their incredibly visionary and generous support in funding TEN Young Champions to join us on the upcoming IAE 2013 Expedition. Their assistance has made it possible for the AYAP (Antarctic Youth Ambassador Program) to commence this year and we will fly the Sahara flag high and proud…..so grateful, Robert Swan OBE