Ross Sea Expedition: Saying Goodbye to Antarctica with Pink Champagne on Ice
Since we weren’t able to stop at McMurdo Sound, we had some extra time before heading back to New Zealand. The Expedition Team always has a Plan B, C, D, etc. So, the latest incarnation was a trip to Bartlett Inlet.
It was doubtful that anyone has been here in many years and the natural beauty can attest to that. Soon the announcement came that we would be able to land on the ice shelf from the Zodiacs. It was a stunningly beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky but fairly windy. The Expedition Team had been busy testing the ice for crevasses and marking trails for us to follow.
Exiting from the boats, we walked up a plank to the landing area and then were free to roam. The first thing we saw was a man-made snow bar dispensing pink champagne and hot chocolate laced with Bailey’s. We decided to tour first and drink later.
When we came to a fork in the “road” we had a choice between looking at the seal in the crevasse or going right to see the penguins. There seemed to be more people at the second site so we headed for the seal. He had apparently come up through the ice for a rest, but was doing his best to hide from the cameras. Because there was a ledge over him, we had to sit or lie flat to photograph him in case the edge broke off.
We then walked up to a sort of lookout where we could see more pressure ridges and lots of seals lying about. Later we learned that there were probably at least 40 of them, but they managed to stay pretty well hidden from us.
It was difficult to stop taking pictures here and hard to describe the experience. It was a vast area and there were probably 75-100 of us walking around, but the snow seemed to absorb all the sound. At times it was unnaturally quiet.
Sadly, this was our last stop in Antarctica for this trip. We turned north and began the journey back through the Ross Sea and into the Southern Ocean. Our departure was at 6:00PM Sunday, January 29th and we wouldn’t see land again for seven days until we arrived in New Zealand.
People often ask which our favorite place in the world is and we always say Antarctica. There is just something really special about the ocean, the ice, the colors, the quiet, and isolation. The Expedition Leader read us a quote every night at Recap and this was my favorite:
“If Antarctica were music, it would be Mozart. Art, and
it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be
Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only
place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never
tame it.” – Andrew Denton, Actor