Friday, 20 January 2012

Stromness 18/1/2012 afternoon landing

We stepped over blubber slugs in the tussock grass at Fortuna Bay
Overwhelmed by the morning’s activities, we let off steam that afternoon with a historic, two-hour hike to Stromness whaling station, following the path that Shackleton took almost 100 years earlier to conclude his epic self-rescue from his ice-crushed ship in the Weddell Sea to South Georgia. Landing at Fortuna Bay, we stepped over fur seals, and held our noses as we passed colossal elephant seals, or ‘blubber slugs’ as they’re affectionately referred to down here.
The glaciated peaks that Shackleton contended with
The day was hot and the cloudless sky gave clear views of the glaciated peaks, immense ice-fields and tooth-like ranges that Shackleton would have contended with. After sipping water and sunbathing by motionless tarns at the top of the saddle, we descended the waterfall, through which Shackleton’s party lowered themselves; sadly this feature was the also the site of a fatality earlier this year, where a tourist slipped and died on January 3rd - with the near-vertical cliffs and loose scree here, a moment’s lapse in concentration could easily incite a fall.
Steep gorges and plummeting waterfalls on Shackleton's walk to Stromness
Descending the waterfall, as Stromness came into focus, we tried to imagine the elation that Shackleton would have felt as he neared his first taste of civilisation in over a year and a half of living on the ice. Stromness was closed in 1961 and, today, the rusting machinery and danger of asbestos mean that the whaling station is out of bounds; except to the hundreds of fur seals and reindeer that patrol the rusting buildings.

Blubber slugs at the rusting remains of Stromness

This blog-post forms part of a series of adventures experienced on-board the M/S Expedition in January 2012, whilst on an Antarctic Cruise - The Spirit of Shackleton - courtesy of Gadventures

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