The ladies from Singapore were perturbed. The revelation that we were leaving Antarctica a day earlier than planned sent them into a huddle to discuss options, as if they had any. I caught snippets of their conversation and the tone seemed to lie between conspiratorial and mutinous. Finally, one raised..
Like many young boys, the most upsetting thing I could hear as a child wasn’t that my mother was angry with me, but that she was “disappointed”. Thankfully, it’s been a while since I felt that particular kind of upset. Or I should say it was a while – despite..
The Ship There’s a strangeness to being in Antarctica, a sense of the surreal. I’m fortunate to have been several times, but repetition hasn’t shaken the peculiarity of the experience. It’s a place where the air is clearer than you can imagine, where the water is purer and the landscapes..
The Governor is a man of few words but many jobs. Sitting in his permanently oil-stained orange overalls, he looks past me, out of a window in the Pyramiden Hotel with the look of a concerned parent. Out there, on the decaying streets of Pyramiden, Petr Petrovich is caretaker, driver, gardener, janitor, just..
Bears are fierce; bears are cautious. Bears are solitary; bears, the females at least, are dedicated to family. Bears are omnipotent; bears are vulnerable. They are everything we want to be and everything we cannot abide. Those are a lot of human characteristics to project onto another species, especially when..
“It’s really crazy work,” says Steve Torgersen. He’s talking about getting fresh water to his restaurant Gruvelageret, on the edge of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, but he could easily be talking generally about the challenges of supplying good food this far north. To look at Longyearbyen on a map (or in person), there’s..
The coldness you feel during an Antarctic polar plunge is elemental. It is not something you can brush off or laugh about. Make all the plans for witticisms you like, the moment you hit that sub-zero water, a panicked mammal part of your being takes over and gets you the..
There are certain mistakes a person should only make once: missing a flight, listening to election pollsters, ordering Hawaiian pizza. To that list I can now add: snorkelling in Antarctica without a fully sealed dry-suit. From the moment I tumbled off the zodiac into near-frozen waters off Gourdin Island I..
Jim Melville didn’t leave Britain until he was 17 years old, and even then, stuck on a ship that he wasn’t allowed to disembark, he wasn’t doing so to visit a new country. Serving on the HMS London as part of the notorious Arctic Convoys in the Second World War,..
It is a question that barely needs asking, and one that is met with wild affirmation when it comes: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have received a radio communication saying that there are favourable ice conditions on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. That means we can try to reach..