Antarctica 2018 and South Georgia 2016 Expeditions

Following the success of his recent Antarctic Peninsula expedition, Stephen is planning another similar ski mountaineering trip for January 2018. If you are interested in joining him, either for skiing or on the boat-based support team, please get in touch at

In the meantime he is getting ready for this year’s South Georgia expedition, departing in September. There are still two places available on what will be a great adventure – visiting South Georgia at the end of winter, before the regular cruise ships arrive.

Download Hi res pdf file here of the South Georgia 2016 prospectus here >>

Video of Antarctica Mountaineering Trip January 2016

01.02.2016 – Antarctic Peninsula expedition complete

Yesterday we tied up in Puerto Williams, Tierra del Fuego, at the end of another magnificent Antarctic expedition.  Departure at the beginning of January was delayed by missing baggage and adverse weather, but our skipper, David Roberts, managed to sneak out into Drake Passage during a brief acceptable weather window.  Four days later we tied up in the Melchior Islands – the first of many magical anchorages amongst the islands and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula.

There was a lot of old winter sea ice this year.  At Port Lockroy, Pelagic Australis was driven, bows up, onto an ice sheet where she usually anchors in clear water.  During one passage up the famous, picturesque Lemaire Channel, the boat became a virtual icebreaker.

Pelagic Australis run up onto the ice at Port Lockroy

Pelagic Australis run up onto the ice at Port Lockroy

The support team, Stephen Davis, David McClean and Joakim Ramen, visited numerous wildlife sites, put in some cold hours laying shorelines at difficult anchorages and did a lot of kayaking.  The mountaineering team had a near miss on Mt Luigi di Savoia, sent back by cold winds and an apparent break in the weather.  On Anvers Island we had better luck.  After a two day approach over the Marr Ice Piedmont, Stephen, Jamie Pearson and Geoff Heigh spent a long day (15 1/2 hours) skiing over the Menelaus Ridge and up the Iliad Glacier to the summit of Mt Francais, highest peak in Grahamland.  The descent was fantastic.  As our New Hampshire snow addict, Geoff, put it, ‘Holy Shit.  Six thousand vertical of powder!’  Actually, it was more like seven thousand feet.  What a treat.

Geoff enjoys 7,000 vertical feet of powder

Geoff enjoys 7,000 vertical feet of powder

A few days later the three of us were joined by Mark and Sally Dravers, and Kim from the support team (Chung Kin Man’s skis were still at Istanbul airport), on a traverse of Hovgaard Island, before returning to the boat to help with efforts to tow a large ice floe out of the way of another boat – Icebird – which was locked in her anchorage.  The towing failed, but the floe did move later that night, of its own accord, allowing Icebird to escape.

Summit of Mount Scott

Summit of Mount Scott

The next day the six of us climbed what must be one of the world’s finest ski mountains – Mt Scott.  Apart from the last few hundred metres of unfathomable slush, the whole descent was on powder snow – a perfect end to the trip, before the return passage across the Drake, reaching Cape Horn on January 28th for the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the first rounding of the Horn.  A big thank you to our wonderful crew – skipper David Roberts, Thomas Geipel and Lizzie Fitzsimmons – for another excellent adventure aboard Pelagic Australis.

Pelagic Australis in ice.  Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.

Pelagic Australis in ice. Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.

07.01.2016 – Back in Puerto Williams

Strange to be back in Puerto Williams and seeing Charlie Porter’s Gondwana moored out in the bay. Last time I was here, almost twenty years ago, I was heading to Monte Sarmiento with Charlie, Jim Wickwire, John Roskelley and Tim Macartney-Snape.

2016_01_07_dinghiesBizarre, also, to see the local teenagers out playing in their dinghies, while the port outside is closed and we are delaying our departure for Antarctica because of a big blow in Drake Passage.  The beautiful 1930s oak fishing boat in the foreground is Arved Fuchs’ Dagmar Aaen.

2016_01_07_puertowilliamsChung Kin Man ‘s skis, meanwhile, are believed to be in Santiago and his boots in Istanbul. But kind Darrell in Ushuaia is lending some replacements which will come over the Beagle Channel tomorrow if the port is opened. (Any veterans of the Empire Strikes Back, Jade Venture, Shishapangma East Face expedition of 1987 will remember Chung).