Antarctica Warnings and Dangers

  • Warnings and Dangers
    by XenoHumph
  • Echelon crevasse on the polar cap, Antarctica
    Echelon crevasse on the polar cap,...
    by XenoHumph
  • Oops, that was close! Crevasse on Ascent glacier.
    Oops, that was close! Crevasse on Ascent...
    by XenoHumph

Antarctica Warnings and Dangers

  • The weather 2: katabatic winds.

    Picture: Katabatic winds at Miller Range camp Antarctica. By the way, it is the midnight sun you see in this picture, on 2011-2012 New Year's Eve! That's me in the picture and my tent mate almost froze her fingers to take this picture.The most famous nasty weather of Antarctica comes from the katabatic winds which are cold (very cold) winds rushing...

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  • Crevasses

    Crevasses are a constant danger when you are on the ice, whether on a glacier or the polar cap. The ice is in constant movement, flowing down toward the sea surrounding the continent and this causes strain and makes the ice break. Crevasses come in all shapes, mostly elongate. They are sometimes hard to see when the ice is covered by snow. You may...

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  • The weather 1: white out!

    Picture: Skidoos in looming white-out conditions AntarcticaThe weather is every day's talk in Antarctica! Thing is, it can be deadly. The photo shows you 7 skidoos of my team expedition in a "white out" coming on. That is snow/fog comes in and suddenly you cannot distinguish sky from ground. Actually, when it is full on, you cannot see anything at...

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  • public rooms

    Another big disadvantage against other Antarctic ships is the fact that public rooms are quite small and there are only a few of them for all of the crew and passengers.My pics 1-3: this is the lounge, where all meals are held, but it is also the only place to show a movie : the black spot in the middle of my pic is the TV-set.that small table on...

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  • in case of an emergency onboard the bark...

    In case of an emergency,there are several life-rafts onboard, they will inflate automatically as soon as they touch the water and there is a small boat as well for maybe 15 people maximum plus the 2 Zodiaks that were also used for taking us ashore in Antarctica. Everybody has a life-vest and a neopren-suit in his cabin, so you will not freeze in...

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  • sailing-watches

    "Playing Seamen" was done in an organized way, whenever we had several days at sea, like the first 3 days of our cruise, when cruising through the Drake Passage and on the way back. Our passengers were divided in 3 groups and we had different periods of "watches" in a system of 4 hours watching followed by 8 hour free time. There were always 2...

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  • Tiny, oldfashioned cabins of the Bark...

    I expected a "romantic" cabin in such an old ship, but in fact these passenger-cabins were a lot worse than the ones we had as crew-cabins onboard of the cruiseship "M/S Vistafjord", here I was working for 4 more than years : No chair, no table, just a tiny wardrobe that was rather a box. 5 such boxes in total for 6 berths plus one single...

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  • Sea-sickness

    Sea-sickness is of course a major problem, mainly in the "Drake Passage", but on a tiny ship like the "Bark Europa" it is certainly a lot worse than onboard of an ordinary cruiseship.Also the fact that there was no table or chair in our cabin added a lot to this problem, because the only way to get dressed was standing, or rather tumbling from one...

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  • Dutch kitchen onboard of the "Bark...

    The meals onboard were totally different from other cruise-ships: You might feel like beeing on a vacation with the whole family, the food was nutricous and somehow quite "basic" in the best sense of the word.Breakfast : white and grey bread,3 different kinds of cheese, 1 kind of sausage, ham and smoked ham, butter and 2 kinds of jam. A single...

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  • choose your berth carefully

    Try to be the first in your cabin and Choose your berth carefully. Onboard of the old, romantic sailing-vessel "Bark Europa" I had my berth in a 6-berth-cabin and unfortunately the best berths had been occupied already and I only got one on the outside of the cabin, along the ships-hull, where I could feel the icy-cold water through the thin skin...

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  • bring enough clothings

    Bring enough clothings, so you are able to change easily when getting wet. Many times in my cruise there were different excursions 2 or even 3 times a day, and every time we got wet eighter by the weather-conditions or by the transfers in the small zodiaks,when we had to drive over a large wave and were spread by seawater all over.The best place to...

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  • Leopard Seals

    Leopardseals will mostly be hunting penguins in the same shallow waters, where also the best and mostly the only places are found in order to land the zodiaks safely. In some cases these seals came close to the zodiaks, they were partly jumping inside of them and bite or attacked people in the zodiaks. I am glad that this never happened in our...

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  • Skuas - flying skunks with attitude

    The ship's birding expert, Cece Ratto, summed it up this way... "I hate skuas, they are awful awful birds. Nasty, unfriendly. They are awful."OK, I'm sure that mother skuas love their little skuas, but these birds are not really popular among both other birds and humans in the area. Some call them flying skunks because they will literally bomb you...

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  • Glacial calving could cause a...

    Calving is the word to describe large pieces of a glacier falling into adjacent water. It makes a monument sounds.... increased creaking, like the hold of an ancient ship, followed by what sounds like thunder's roar, and finally a huge splash into the water. It's incredible, a true show of nature's power, but can also be very dangerous. IF the...

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  • X-rated icebergs

    With literally thousands of icebergs to see, there is a huge variety of shapes and sizes. And inevitably, just really by luck of the draw, some of them might just end up looking "like something or someone". The "like something" icebergs are especially entertaining when they might be a little bit x-rated. I can guarantee you that the zodiac drivers,...

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  • The Sailor's Grip - learn it, use it

    On Antarctic expedition cruises, you'll spend a lot of time getting into and out of zodiac craft. You'll also be climbing up steep steps, narrow trails and the like. In short, you're going to have people stretching out their hands to help you, and you'll be doing the same for others. That's where the sailor's grip comes in. They teach it on day one...

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  • Penguin Poo - stay out of the line of...

    OK, penguins are birds. We are all familiar with the nuances of bird poo. They just kind of "let go" and if it's your wonderful fortune to be under them, well..... a trip to the dry cleaners for your new linen suit, right? The good news is that penguins are rarely ABOVE you, they generally stand on the ground, down around your feet. The bad news is...

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  • Maniacs driving your ZODIACs

    This 'warning' is really just in jest. The drivers who captained our zodiac landing craft were experts, true professionals. They knew what they were doing.Early in our trip, we were remarking about how fast Phil (one of the guides and also a zodiac driver) liked to go. Since he was an Austrian, we christened him NIKI LAUDA in honor of the Austrian...

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  • HOLD ON, while onboard

    OK, it goes without saying, but I say it anyway.... ships are in constant motion. Sometimes they are in contant heavy motion, crossing the Drake Passage for example. HOLD ON. Always keep one hand free for holding on. We were told early on to "reserve one hand for the ship" to hold on to rails and such. And to be quite honest, sometimes TWO hands...

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  • Icebergs

    Anyone who has seen the movie Titanic - or perhaps actually read the history of the disaster learning of it sans Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio - knows all too well the hazards posed to ships in an iceberg-laden area. Icebergs range from small to massive, and you can never really - with your naked eye - know how big or how an iceberg is shaped,...

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  • Eaaaaaasy, Stomach. Here comes the...

    The Drake Passage, which separates Argentina and Chile from Antarctica, is one of the most active watery convergences on earth. Strong back and forth currents are created by the meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, coupled with the strong winds and weather swings in the polar region. The result is that the current in the passage will be...

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  • Protecting the Antarctic environment

    Antarctica is a pristine, fragile and unique environment - like nowhere else on earth. Unlike almost every other place, it is pretty much untouched and unspoiled by mankind and "progress". In deference to its unique and delicate nature and by unanimous treaty agreement, all ships traveling to Antarctica and facilitating human "landings" take...

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  • Stay off the penguin trail

    This tip is for the comfort of the penguins; not our own. They have their regular "highways"--easily spotted because they are a pinkish color. The snow gets soft in some places, and a tourist boot might sink several inches. When the penguin gets to that spot, he will probably trip and fall down.

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  • Life boat drill

    After being glued to the internet all day, reading about the sinking of the MS Explorer, I don't think I really have to tell you to pay attention, to this vitally important info, do I? Just thought I'd add the pic of lifeboat drill, on the Polar Pioneer, after seeing the Explorer's lifeboats. The Polar Pioneer has hard shell 'cocoon type' lifeboats...

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  • Don't touch the animals

    1. Don't Touch the AnimalsYou really might be tempted to grab one of the penguins and snuggle into their toy-like belly BUT don't. Not safe. Also, even if they look like they want it, let them be.There is a 5m rule on penguin distance.I don't think I have to say anything about touching Leopard Seals...whales.... etc.2. Don't fall off the zodiac3....

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  • Lifeboat drill

    On the first morning at sea there was an obligatory lifeboat drill for all passengers. We were told where to find life jackets if needed, and how to wear them. We were also given instructions on using the lifeboats and all the other information we’d need in the event of an emergency. Of course we never needed to put any of this information to use,...

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  • You Must Be In Good Health!

    Although the cruise I took were mostly older people, I would recommend doing this while you are still flexible. Many of these folks were not able to take part in the zodiac landings as it was just to difficult for them to do the climbing to get in and then out of the zodiacs.

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  • Sunburn

    You may be travelling to one of the coldest places on earth but as any skier knows that doesn’t mean you’re not at risk from the sun. On a bright day in Antarctica the reflections from the snow and the sea mean that your skin (or the small areas of it you feel like exposing to the elements!) will really suffer if you don’t wear a sun-cream with a...

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  • Crossing Drake’s Passage

    To reach the Antarctic by ship from South America it is necessary to cross the notorious Drake’s Passage, usually one of the roughest of sea crossings. I don’t tend to suffer from sea-sickness, but I wasn’t looking forward to the crossing, and thought it would probably be the first time in my life I would experience such sickness. We went prepared...

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  • Wild Animals

    We met fur seals in Yankee Harbour. And they are rather aggressive, but they didn't take up the hostile attempts. Be careful - they might rush towards people - so really watch out! Sea-elephants are aggressive only on land, because they guard their territory. But in water they are friendly and inoffensive. We were advised to keep a distance of at...

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  • Weather conditions

    Weather conditions can change very rapidly in the Antarctic. We experienced this more than once - either way:we did have pretty nasty weather at first and within a short time we had bright sunshine and blue sky. But we also experienced it the other way around - all of a sudden the sky was cloudy, a strong wind came up and we had to hurry to get...

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  • Seasickness

    When passing the Drake passage you must be ready for some real waves!!! We had quite a bit of storm (9-10) and waves up to 8 m high!!! Good for those of us who did not become seasick....If you know about your weak stomach, be sure to take medication with you - and be sure, that it will all be worth it!

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  • Crevasses are 'interesting'

    Ice has a limited degree of plasticity, so when it moves over uneven bedrock it cannot distort much without cracking. The end result is called a crevasse. On the average glacier they are everywhere and usually large and visible, because the ice is subject to a lot of movement. When on something like the antarctic plateau though, they can pop up...

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  • Keep Dry

    Becoming wet, or even damp, is one of the major risks in a cold climate, as moisture conducts heat away from your body more effectively than dry air. Dress for the cold, but without overdressing as that could lead to sweating. Layers of clothing which can be removed as necessary are the best approach.In zodiacs, where there is a risk of spray, wear...

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  • Sudden winds

    Antarctica can have very severe winds. Some of these arise from weather patterns, in the same way as elsewhere, but some are a form of wind created by the downhill drainage of very cold air. These latter winds are called katabatic winds."The katabatic" as it is generally known in East Antarctica where it is extremely common, usually develops at...

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  • Watch your hide!

    The high levels of ultra-violet light in the Antarctic mean that sunburn is a risk. The answer is simple: use a good quality high UV rating sunscreen on exposed skin.Equally important, though not always considered, is that your lips need good protection from sun, wind, and low humidity. The best answer is a protective lipstick containing lanoline...

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  • Caution - sea ice moves!

    Walking on sea ice is very enjoyable. But be warned that it does move around. Even "fast" sea ice at the shore has tide cracks at the edges. The result is that, if you go for a walk somewhere, you may have to take a different route back. And, in the worst case, you could find yourself having to make a leap from one floe to another! So think...

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  • Travelling to Antarctica for elderly

    A trip to Antarctica requires at least an avegare (and preferrably good) physical condition for a number of resasons.First, the Drake Passage is not nice for anybody. The swell makes most people feel bad or very bad. Many passengers have no apetite, and not all of those who do have "manage to keep all the food inside".Second, when the sea is rough,...

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  • Travelling to Antarctica with kids

    Ashra and I do'n't have kids ourselves (yet). The information in this tip is mainly based on what I saw from a Dutch couple that brought their 9 and 13-year-old daughters on the same trip as I did. There is no doubt that the girls really enjoyed the trip. Furthermore, they did not cause any problem during the entire trip for any of the other...

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  • Sea sickness

    The Drake passage is one of the roughest sea passages in the world.Most people suffer from motion sickness to some degree. It takes 36 - 48 hours to cross from Ushuaia to the sheltered waters of Antarctica.Unless you have a stomach of steel, bring some seasickness medication: Gravol, Dramamine or the stronger scopolamine patches (called TransDerm...

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  • No Polar Bears

    I'm adding this tip to dispel a myth that can be a source of disappointment among travellers. Contrary to popular belief, penguins and polar bears don't belong together. The only time you will see them together in real life is in a zoo. Polar bears are native to the arctic and penguins are native to the southern hemisphere. If your mission is to...

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  • Pressure Ridges

    Imagine big waves, that are frozen, and you get pressure ridges.Actually they are formed when the Ice Shelf presses against the land. They look like waves as they develop, but then they break apart as in this photo.

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  • Crevasses

    Sometimes, these look small, but they often are larger underneath.The closer you step to the edge, the thinner the ice is below you.

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  • Icebergs!

    Here's a satelite image of the HUGE iceberg currently blocking resupply shipping lanes to McMurdo.It looks like it's over 100 km long, and is moving NW. It is expected to collide with that Ice Peninsula on Christmas Day.I'd love to witness that.

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  • Trapped?

    Small ice floes can quickly close in and trap you on a landing site. Stories were told of previous cruise passengers who were stranded on an island for 12 hours..... (for each zodiac landing, first aid, provisions and emergency flares werw brought ashore for our safety).Larger bergs can become top heavy and roll, causing huge and sudden waves. Very...

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Antarctica Warnings and Dangers

Reviews and photos of Antarctica warnings and dangers posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Antarctica sightseeing.
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