Preparing to return to Antarctica for a fourth visit, Adventure Life traveler, Laurie Allread, explains a little about why Antarctica continues to beckon her return again … and again. Laurie will be joining us on the Kapitan Khlebnikov’s Ross Sea Centennial Voyage. This is the final season the Kapitan is taking travelers to the polar regions — departing Nov. 9, 2011, this trip will be an epic month-long Antarctica adventure. Pictures from Laurie’s past Antarctica travels are found on her website. One look, and you’ll understand why she just can’t keep away.
By Laurie Allread
Iceberg! Iceberg! Everyone grabs their parkas and runs outside to the deck while other passengers view the sculptured ice from inside the warm ship while sipping hot cocoa. I’m getting near my destination I recall thinking. Antarctica is near. Now, as I prepare for the fourth trip to the white continent, I dream of seeing that first iceberg.
It is nearly impossible to explain what lures me back to the white continent for the fourth time. The first trip to Antarctica was to the peninsula for mere curiosity. The next two trips were to Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea to visit the emperor penguin rookeries. Each time I said it would be the last, but, now I find myself again traveling on the Russian Icebreaker, Kaptian Khlebnikov. This time I will travel from Christchurch, New Zealand to Antarctica for a 29 day expedition. Once again, friends wonder what lures me back. Undoubtedly, Antarctica is like no other place on earth but it is the adventure, uncertainty and the senses she stirs in me that lures me back.
Adventure always begins at departure. The duration of the voyage, the roughness of the seas or when the first iceberg will appear is always uncertain. This trip will be longer and rougher than the prior trips that departed from South America as I will travel through the roaring forties, furious fifties and shrieking sixties. These areas are known for their unpredictable high winds and large waves. Just imagine, Robert Scott traveled this same route Antarctica exactly 100 years ago in his wooden vessel the Terra Nova .
As a person who dislikes predictability, the uncertainty of Antarctica intrigues me. Everything about travel to Antarctica is uncertain. The environment dictates your every move. Each day is a surprise. I’ve trekked across the ice during a sunny day to see wildlife, had expeditions canceled due to severe whiteout conditions and been stuck in the ice for days. During this trip, weather permitting, I hope to visit the huts of the historic explorers and fly in helicopters along the Ross Ice Shelf and the Dry Valley.
No place stirs my senses as strongly as Antarctica. The ever changing light creates reflections in the ice and changes the vivid colors to pastels and back again. The numerous shades of blue and white go on forever. There is little point of reference to determine distance or size. I feel so small in the vast icy wilderness. It is an eerie feeling. Still, I feel so confident standing on the bow of the ship while it loudly breaks through the thick ice. But when the ship is parked in the ice, there may be complete silence with the exception of the cracking ice or the splash of a penguin or seal.
Happily, I have been lured back again but, this time I am not placing any bets about this being my last journey to the white continent.