Cuverville Island - Our Antarctic Everest

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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MS Expedition

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Sunday, November 28, 2010

Overnight we had travelled quite a distance and now the sea was littered with stunning icebergs, some stationary and others bopping around in the crystal clear water. We also awoke to brilliant sunshine which made everything look so perfect. The snow became a more vivid white and the ice a more vivid blue and water was still enough to reflect back perfect mirror images of icebergs and snow clad mountains.

We had been briefed that there was a rather strenuous climb that could be undertaken on our morning landing if we wanted, otherwise there was plenty to see on the lower slopes. Of course we opted to join the climb! We geared up and when we went to get in the zodiacs we were separated, as I was the last person in one, and Avan the first in the next.  As my zodiac zipped across the water a loud crack sounded and a small piece of ice broke off an iceberg, thrilling all in the boat.  On landing we were told there was quite a unique sight up the beach a little way, an emperor penguin resting with some gentoo penguins. The emperor is rarely seen in these parts and is the much larger type more commonly seen in documentaries and movies that live in the Southern most reaches.

I stayed near the landing site on my own, waiting for Avan to arrive, and to my complete surprise and amazement a couple of gentoo penguins came right up to me and started looking me up and down. They are quite unafraid of humans and whilst we are told we must keep fifteen feet clear in our approach to them, the penguins do not understand this and actually come right up for a look at us!  

When the next zodiac arrived with Avan on board, we went to take pics of the emperor penguin then joined the group hiking to the top of the mountain. This was no ordinary hike as we zigzagged up the mountain in a series of switchbacks in snow and ice. Often a boot would go right through soft snow up to the knee and it would have to be pulled out and a firmer step found. We felt exhilarated on reaching the top and were afforded a fantastic view. Some of the climbers stood on their heads and did cartwheels for pictures, such was the mood at the top! There was a surprise coming down for us too. About way down was a spot deemed safe by the expedition staff where you could sit on your bum and slide the rest of the way down the mountain if you were game. Yes, we were game! What a hoot - tearing down the mountain at breakneck speed, laughing and screaming. Some of the young ones emulated the penguins and went down on their bellies.

After the zodiac trip back to the ship, zipping around the most beautiful icebergs, we took off our wet weather gear and the loudspeaker "ding donged" for our attention. The lovely Josie (Hotel Manager) said she had a surprise for us. Since it was such a lovely day weather wise, lunch was to be a BBQ on the back deck in the fresh air – “Bon Appetite.!”  Nothing, absolutely nothing could prepare people, already on a high from such a great morning, for the sights, sounds and smells that greeted us on the back deck. Party music played, people “congoed” to it around the tables, a fire BBQ in a drum was cooking perfect ribs, and tables groaned with salads, fruits and accompaniments. The mood was of total exuberance and young and old alike were into the party mood.  There were smiles on everyone's faces and people commenting that “it does not get better than this!” But of course it did……. But that’s the next story!
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