If there is a universal truth about exploration across the ages, it is that things don’t always go according to plan. However, sometimes unexpected challenges can have a positive outcome, as discovered by the team on the Trust’s 2020 Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. The group spent an extra week in quarantine on a ship off the coast of Argentina due to global travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, before the Trust was able to secure safe passage through various countries lockdowns to safely travel home.
Antarctic General Manager Commercial and Partnerships, Marcus Waters, who was Expedition Leader says the Trust’s investment in a great team culture and spirit stood them in good stead to meet the challenge. “These explorers are all amazing and passionate young people who supported each other so well throughout the entire expedition. A few of them have told me the extra time in quarantine only added to the experience and helped them to bond even more.”
The life-changing opportunity to experience Antarctica and get their own taste of the spirit of exploration was fully embraced by the young explorers during their time on the Antarctic Peninsula, says Marcus. “Sharing the Antarctic experience with this great group of young people in an environment most of them would never otherwise get to see, was a highlight for me. The team included two secondary school students from South Auckland, New Zealand, who had never seen snow before. It was remarkable to witness their growth.”
A new partnership with Quark Expeditions saw the team board the Ocean Endeavour at the bottom tip of South America in Ushuaia for a round trip to the Antarctic Peninsula. Despite the trip being cut short the team visited the South Shetland Islands, Trinity and Danco Islands and kayaked in spectacular scenery at places like Wilhelmina Bay.
Keen mountaineer and adventurer, Dr Bill Bishop, was one of three paying official supporters on the expedition, alongside Board Trustees Richard Bedford and Andrew Coleman. “The expedition was an incredible voyage of discovery for everyone. We all marvelled at the landscape and it was great to see the excitement of the young explorers as they faced new challenges and did things in such an extreme environment. A highlight for me was the way we evolved as a team. We started as a group of strangers from very different backgrounds and cultures but are now a great group of friends.”
Olympic kayaker, Mike Dawson, also joined the expedition as a kayaking mentor for the second year.
Mike believes the intensity of exploration in Antarctica has a profound, life-changing impact on all who are lucky enough to experience it. “I think it is fantastic that Antarctic Heritage Trust provides this opportunity for young people who have the potential to influence and communicate their sense of wonder about Antarctica, their connection to the history and spirit of polar exploration, and what they learned about the history, wildlife, science, and the importance of Antarctica to the world today.”
For me, the most memorable experience out on the water was at Portal Point, because of the sheer enormity of the environment we were in. As we kayaked around, the entire team was dwarfed by so many icebergs. It was almost scary just to see the power of nature on display. The low cloud made it a really mysterious environment, with a bit of snow. Somewhat warmer temperatures meant that the icebergs started breaking apart. I was overwhelmed with the power of the ice, and how insignificant we were.”
The Trust would like to acknowledge and thank expedition partner Quark Expeditions. We also acknowledge the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice and assistance regarding repatriation. With thanks to Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate for our ongoing partnership and Hillary House Leadership Centre for their support. Thanks to Canon New Zealand and Ole Hansen and to HIT Lab and Rob Lindeman for the loan of technical gear.