How I Was Introduced to Antarctica
Antarctica is a continent like no other, an ice-laden land that’s often misunderstood – or at least that was how it seemed to me 15 years ago, when a friend mentioned his desire to work at the McMurdo Research Station on the southern tip of Ross Island. Little more came to my mind than Sir David Attenborough’s penguins huddled together on a desolate stretch of snow and ice, and while the penguins were magnificent, they also looked very cold.
Fast forward a few years: I was in the Andes Mountains, several thousand miles from Antarctica, and all I could think about was going there. A fellow trekker in the Peruvian Andes, who’d trekked all over the world, was describing the most beautiful landscape she’d ever seen. To my surprise the number one spot wasn’t found in Nepal, Bhutan, Switzerland or Canada. Not in the Andes, Rockies or Alps. It was the Antarctic Peninsula, and what she was depicting was not a flat sheet of ice, devoid of contour, but rather a breathtaking scene of jagged snow-covered peaks rising over 10,000 feet from the deep icy blue waters below. That’s all I needed to know. I was hooked.
As I started my research I was surprised by the variety of offerings, from luxury cruise ships to expedition vessels to ice-breakers. Fortunately – or unfortunately – I didn’t have infinite time or money, so I had to focus and figure out my top goal for the trip: to get onto the continent and into the mountains. The departure that I kept coming back to was on the Plancius and called The Basecamp.
The Basecamp departure included options for snowshoeing, kayaking, mountaineering and camping, any of which sounded amazing by themselves. In a departure where they were all offered together? All I needed to know was where to sign my name. After securing my cabin, I set about arranging my travel to Ushuaia, Argentina, where I would set out for the adventure. Bon Voyage!