Wiencke Island, Antarctica Nov. 12, 2011

The Drake passage crossing Nov. 10-11 was moderate in weather. Swells and wind were less than I had seen on one day of a 2005 Caribbean cruise through a dissipated hurricane. However that was a huge ship with stabilizers, so the Clipper Adventurer with ~100 passengers rocked and rolled much more. Due to reputation I used the prescription patch behind the ear and had no motion issues but found the dry mouth side effect annoying. The biggest challenge was the dining room, where we learned to have only one plate of food at a time. Unattended plates could easily slide off the table and the waiters soon learned not to stack dishes on carts where they could fall off and break.

The cruise had strong tail winds Nov. 10 so we arrived at the South Shetland Islands by dinner on Nov. 11. Usually landings start here but weather forecasts showed continued high winds so plans were changed to cruise through the night as far south as possible to get away from the low pressure over the Shetlands.

On the morning of Nov. 12 with weather still poor at potential ski sites we had a tourist stop at the Port Lockroy British base.

And a nearby penguin rookery. Some were calling.

Some were carrying pebbles to form nests.

Mixed in with the penguins were a few cormorants.

Color is the same but cormorants fly, have long necks and make their nests from seaweed.

This island had a partially buried whale skeleton

And finally a Weddell seal.

After a late lunch the ship moved around the opposite side of Wiencke Island from Port Lockroy and finally found the wind had calmed down enough for our first ski landing. Skiing is the priority of the trip and we were finally put ashore about 6PM. Our landing, several groups on their way up.

Group above the icebergs and ship.

We skinned for somewhat more than an hour and stopped when a cloud lowered onto us. Skiing here was a mellow pitch but difficult due to breakable crust. Even Forrest fell a couple of times, though he skis backcountry nearly full time and is thus on telemark skis. Careful rounded turns would usually but not always avoid breaking through. Once below the fog there was a long traverse to a final pitch above the landing zone.

Forrest on his way back to retrieve Liz, who was waiting with another group and hadn’t seen us take the long traverse.

While waiting for our Zodiac, we can see the fog has lifted from where we skied and a group is up there. Meanwhile another group is at a steeper landing site across the bay. Most of us are here.