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Daily Archives: 20. January 2015 − News & Stories


We have been kee­ping an eye on the ice chart for days with qui­te some exci­ti­ment. What appears like some colour­ful squa­re cen­ti­me­tres on paper is hund­reds of miles of drift ice in real life, covering much of the Ross Sea. Yel­low is not vit­amin-rich lemon, but half open water. Pur­p­le is not blu­e­ber­ry, but a very den­se pack ice cover, tougher than a cher­ry stone and abso­lute­ly ine­di­ble.

In the arc­tic, the sea ice is shrin­king rapidly. In the Ant­arc­tic, it is brea­king records. The­re is a lot of ice in the Ross Sea this year.

The ice is the focus of ever­y­bo­dies atten­ti­on here on Orte­li­us. We are all regu­lar­ly exami­ning the ice­chart, fol­lowing the deve­lo­p­ment, dis­cus­sing what all the colours may mean for us. The degree of expe­ri­ence that goes into the­se dis­cus­sions is varia­ble, and so is the pati­ence that Shack­le­ton iden­ti­fied as a polar traveller’s most important qua­li­ty. The­se ice charts are always rough and some­ti­mes ama­zin­gly mis­lea­ding, and even the satel­li­tes don’t know what will hap­pen over the next days.


Tal­king about Shack­le­ton. It was on 20th Janu­a­ry 1914 that the Endu­ran­ce got stuck in the ice of the Wed­dell Sea. That is 100 years ago today.

So we are eager­ly awai­t­ing the deve­lo­p­ment over the next days. The first ice floes are drif­ting around the ship. A beau­ti­ful view in the sunshi­ne.

Amund­sen Sea

18th-20th Janu­a­ry 2015 – As Shack­le­ton said, the most important cha­rac­ter fea­ture for every polar explo­rer is pati­ence. Now we are not tal­king about spen­ding a long ant­arc­tic win­ter tog­e­ther in a litt­le hut, squee­zed around a far too small table with per­ma­nent darkness and long bliz­zards out­side. But some days at sea are enough to make the inner clock turn a bit slower. Some may have dif­fi­cul­ties with it, but I think, most of us are actual­ly enjoy­ing it. At home we are always on to some­thing, always online, 24/7 workloads, per­ma­nent stress. How often do you have the luxu­ry to watch waves for hours on end, wai­t­ing for the occa­sio­nal Cape or Giant storm petrel – they have beco­me a bit rare the­se days – pas­sing by? One of the­se days, even a migh­ty Wan­de­ring alba­tross was seen during the ear­ly morning hours. Far south of the con­ver­gence, but the­re is no way too long for the­se eter­nal riders of the sou­thern winds.

Still, every day is dif­fe­rent. One day, the wind was strong enough to be dis­agree­ab­le for some, one day was grey, the out­side world hid­den behind a curtain of snow. One day, it was after lea­ving Peter I Island, we had pods of Orcas several times, and today ear­ly morning, the­re were Min­ke wha­le backs brea­king through the waves, catching some rays of the rising sun.


Of cour­se we are having a seri­es of lec­tures and films. Micha­el has exp­lai­ned the various sub­ty­pes of Orcas, and Vic­to­ria is tel­ling the sto­ries from the ear­lier years of explo­ra­ti­on. Sto­ries? Heroic adven­tures! The­se are only a few examp­les, we have got qui­te a ran­ge of stuff bet­ween us. But I have to rave on a litt­le bit about Vic­to­ria Salem’s histo­ry talks. They should beco­me a TV seri­es. I am not a TV jun­kie, but I would turn it on. High fre­quen­cy rhe­to­ri­cal arti­stry, every see­min­gly casu­al sen­tence a punch line with high-gra­de histo­ry fla­vour. 40 minu­tes that feel like at least one well-rese­ar­ched histo­ry book. Loo­king for­ward to more 🙂


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