Tuesday, 15 December 2009


What excitement! The bit of paper went up on the noticeboard saying that the first 16 people to get their name on the list would have a day trip out to see the Emperor Penguin colony at Caboose. After a bit of eye gouging and hair pulling I managed to be number 2 on the list! This trip was going to make use of all my survival gear and I spent the evening before working out just how many hours I was going to set aside to get all my gear on....including the 22 thermal vests my Mother had given me for Christmas.

The next day us group of entripid explorers met up with Niv (a climbing expert) and a giant Snow Cat which was pulling 2 sledges....the first carried nothing but would act as a snow barrier from the blizzard created by the Snow Cat's tracts for the second sledge on which 8 of us would have to travel....I say us....but having firmly ensconced myself in the Snow Cat's cab...I mean them....

It took just over an hour to get to the drop off point from where, to my horror, I realised we had to walk the rest of the way......fancy that! Bloody hard going I tell you....Oh yes...and not only walk we had to all be roped together as a spot of cravass jumping was called for....I don't remember that being on the list! I have to say that jumping those 24 inches felt like a great achievement. I can see you sneering from here...right...leave this blog right now, put on every piece of winter clothing you've got, add an axe and climbing helmet, tie a piece of rope around your waist, attach it to the nearest two human beings and go and jump 2 feet pretending there is a 60 foot drop beneath you.....go on...

You can come back now....got my point?

When I got to the edge of the ice cliff overlooking the colony I just couldn't believe my eyes...it's amazing, unbelievable, exciting, emotional and bloody noisy...believe me penguins can only shout and scream at each other.

And then there was a spot of ice cliff descending.

It's not so cold now so the pengiuns don't feel the need to huddle in tight little groups anymore and can stroll around. On land they are comical, in the sea they are majestic.

We are told not to approach them but obviously the penguin council have not issued the same advice as they curiously look at us and slowly come to examine the strange creatures that have invaded their sea-ice beach and then as quickly as their curiosity comes it evaporates and they get on with whatever penguin business is at hand.

It is all so timeless.

We had about a couple of hours there before it was time to climb back up the cliff and make our way back to Halley. The trip home was pretty subdued. We had all experienced something that was wonderful and I think all of us just got lost in our thoughts.

Anyway I was so lucky to get this trip as it looks like it will be the last for nobody knows how long. That 2 foot cravass jump had, within 4 days, turned into 6 foot. And it looks like that part of the ice shelf will break off at any point and career into where the penguins have their colony. And that will be a disaster for the penguins chicks...they're not ready yet. They won't be ready until all their baby plummage has gone.

I just hope they have more time than the scientists here say they have.

I'm feeling pretty emotional .....


  1. Marvellous! What a place...
    Very admirable of you, all that mountaineering...
    The chicks are so cute; yes, let's hope they make it.
    how are you liking it there so far?


  2. Absolutely stunning Lorna, how amazing! A once in a lifetime opportunity that most people will never get. Okay you can deal with the lag of smokes I'm sure ha ha. Cook up a storm...keep those construction workers under control!! Penguins rule! Dawn xxx

  3. It all looks wonderful I have every faith in u remember Touching the void ?? and good old margaret bless her at least your warm,have a good xmas thinking of you love jane XXXXXXXX