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Tag: Antarctica

Jenny Davis skied 715 Miles across Antarctica completely alone—and that’s just one of her crazy adventures

Jenny Davis

Jenny Davis

Jenny Davis as told to Ellie Trice / Shape Magazine »

This passion took on a new life when I was diagnosed with a benign tumor in my abdomen five years ago. After a painful surgery and treatment, I made the decision—while still recovering in a hospital bed—to apply to run the Marathon de Sables, a 155.5-mile ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert, starting in Ouarzazate, Morocco. I moved to Morocco to train and live in a tent among other female athletes from around the world, and ended up being the 16th female to cross the finish line after five days.

Adventure to me is about being idle. That doesn’t mean you have to go on a huge expensive expedition—you can simply just set up camp in the wild close to home for the weekend. It’s about getting outdoors and disconnecting from the pressures of mundane life.

But I wasn’t going to give up. In November 2019, I strapped on my skis and made my second attempt. This time around, for the first 500 miles, I was skiing at world-record pace. Then an injury, one they call polar thigh, set in. (The motion of skiing into a headwind or tailwind can compress your legwear, and if there you don’t have enough insulation or any cold air gets trapped, you can suffer from polar thigh.) For me, it started as these small clusters of ulcers on my leg, which continued to get bigger and bigger over time.

Read the whole article »

More » Jenny Davis (web site)

Ben Saunders: What I learned from crossing Antarctica on skis, alone

TED:

On November 8, 2017, a plane dropped Saunders — who was 40 at the time — at Berkner Island, just off the coast of the Weddell Sea (to see a map, click here). Like Ernest Shackleton (although Shackleton was ultimately unsuccessful), Saunders was aiming to reach a point on the southern coast where the Ross Ice Shelf meets the land. For the next seven weeks, his only connections to the outside world were a satellite phone (only for emergencies), a tracker to keep a remote team aware of his position on an hourly basis, and a smartphone he used to write emails and blog posts. He skied an average of 15.5 miles during 9- to 10-hour days while pulling a sledge that held all the food and equipment he’d need for the journey and weighed 300 pounds at the trip’s start.

Ten things no one tells you before an Antarctic expedition

Patrick Woodhead, writing in the Telegraph:

  1. You’re going to have to eat a lot of raw butter.
  2. Washing is a painful experience.
  3. Take it one step at a time.
  4. Choose your companions carefully. You may have to eat them.
  5. Going mental.
  6. The tent is a surprisingly nice place to be.
  7. Take a notebook and pencil.
  8. Frostbite is about sweat, genetics and experience.
  9. Expect delays. Planes rarely run on schedule.
  10. There is often a huge sense of isolation and disconnect when you come back to everyday life.

Read the whole article.

Rare Footage of Minke Whales Captured in Antarctica

From Antarctica New Zealand:

“I’m such an excited scientist right now!”

Dr Regina Eisert, marine mammal expert at the University of Canterbury, still can’t believe the underwater footage her team captured on a recent Antarctic expedition to study killer whales.

“The whole whale glides past – this is such a lucky shot!” she says as she watches her computer screen.

With a serenity that belies its massive size, a minke whale floats gracefully through the frame. Little is known about Antarctic minke whales that can grow up to 10 m long and weigh 9 tonnes. Dr Eisert believes this may be the first time a minke whale has been filmed underwater, and in the sea ice, in the Ross Sea.

Dr Eisert is particularly excited as she didn’t think anything had been captured on a new prototype underwater camera designed by Antarctic film expert Anthony Powell of Antzworks.

“The plan was to film continuously across the icebreaker channel that is prepared for the re-supply vessel to cross McMurdo Sound. The water’s so clear, you can see right across the 50-80 m lane and monitor all the whales that use the channel,” Dr Eisert says. “Unfortunately, the system only recorded for just a few hours, due to teething problems for this new technology in the field. We had no idea that we had this footage until Anthony found it when checking the camera back in Christchurch!”

Dr Eisert’s research programme focusses on fish-eating (Type C) killer whales, but she also became interested in minke whales when she realised that they are champions of ice navigation, beating even the Type-C killer whales in their ability to infiltrate deep into McMurdo Sound.

According to IWC estimates, there are about 180,000 minke whales in Area V, the area of Southern Ocean that includes the Ross Sea region. Dr Eisert says while this species is likely to be an important part of the Ross Sea food web, little is known about their precise role in the ecosystem. Minke whales are also the only whales that are still hunted in the Southern Ocean, ostensibly for scientific purposes.  But there are other ways to study whales that cause no harm, such as photo-identification and dart biopsies.

When a minke swims by, Dr Eisert and her team take a photo – and a skin samples using a small dart.

“We can learn so much from a small tissue sample, such as their diet – we think they just eat krill, but do they eat small fish as well? Also, DNA analysis can tell us whether Ross Sea minkes are separate from other minke whales on the Antarctic Peninsula or further north, or if they are all part of one larger population,” she says.

As filter feeders that primarily target krill, Dr Eisert says minke whales feed low in the food web and follow the retreating sea ice to find the richest feeding grounds.

“This means they’re excellent indicators of ‘ecosystem hotspots’ – particularly productive areas.  This information in turn feeds into environmental stewardship, in particular by supporting the objectives of the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area (MPA).”

The Ross Sea region MPA came into effect on 1 December 2017. It covers 1.55 million square kilometres, and is the world’s largest marine protected area. Ongoing research and monitoring are required to show that the MPA meets its objectives and to ensure the MPA’s continued existence.

Dr Eisert’s team travelled to Scott Base with Antarctica New Zealand in January, and she hopes analysis of the samples and images they collected will begin a valuable data set for Ross Sea minke whale research.

Footage also available on Vimeo.

More:

Rare footage of minke whale a ‘lucky shot” – Otago Daily Times

Video: Escape to the serenity of Antarctica

Take a 4-minute escape and soar above whales, icebergs, and snow-capped mountains of Antarctica. The ethereal vocals of Inga Liljestrom snuggle you next to penguins and seals in this mesmerizing short from Aliscia Young and Richard Sidey. (Best viewed full screen and volume up.)

Wild Antarctica from GALAXIID on Vimeo.

The White Darkness – A solitary journey across Antarctica

David Grann tells the story of modern-day fifty-five year old British polar explorer, Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Edward Henry Worsley, on his attempt to traverse Antartica in 2015, solo. This is one of the most brutal environments in the world. Nobody had attempted this feat before.

David Grann, The New Yorker:

By the middle of January, 2016, he had travelled more than eight hundred miles, and virtually every part of him was in agony. His arms and legs throbbed. His back ached. His feet were blistered and his toenails were discolored. His fingers had started to become numb with frostbite. In his diary, he wrote, “Am worried about my fingers — one tip of little finger already gone and all others very sore.” One of his front teeth had broken off, and the wind whistled through the gap. He had lost some forty pounds, and he became fixated on his favorite foods, listing them for his broadcast listeners: “Fish pie, brown bread, double cream, steaks and chips, more chips, smoked salmon, baked potato, eggs, rice pudding, Dairy Milk chocolate, tomatoes, bananas, apples, anchovies, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, toast, pasta, pizza and pizza. Ahhhhh!”

He was on the verge of collapse. Yet he was never one to give up, and adhered to the S.A.S.’s unofficial motto, “Always a little further” — a line from James Elroy Flecker’s 1913 poem “The Golden Journey to Samarkand.” The motto was painted on the front of Worsley’s sled, and he murmured it to himself like a mantra: “Always a little further … a little further.”

 

Adventure travel set to grow in 2018

A key finding of the Adventure Travel Survey UK, produced by Wanderlust magazine, and released last week, shows that 30% of adventure travellers surveyed intended to take more trips this year compared with 2016 and 42% intended to spend more on travel.

The research showed that 74% planned to travel to more expensive destinations. The destination which topped respondents’ bucket lists was Antarctica, followed by New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the Galapagos.

The travel industry survey showed an increase in solo travellers taking adventure trips, growth in multi-generational travel groups, and instances of two friends travelling together.

More than 2,300 consumers completed the survey, including Wanderlust readers.

Polar explorer Erling Kagge on the value of silence

The Financial Times published an excerpt from ‘Silence, In the Age of Noise’ by Erling Kagge, and translated by Becky L Crook (Viking):

Antarctica is the quietest place I’ve ever been. I walked alone to the South Pole, and in that vast monotone landscape there was no human noise apart from the sounds I made. Alone on the ice, far into that great white nothingness, I could both hear and feel the silence. (I had been forced by the company who owned the aeroplane that flew me to the northern edge of Antarctica to bring a radio. The last thing I did in the aeroplane was to leave the batteries in the garbage bin.)

Everything seemed completely flat and white, kilometre after kilometre all the way to the horizon, as I headed southward across the world’s coldest continent. Underneath lies 30m cubic kilometres of ice, pressing down on the Earth’s surface.

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