Our expedition was called the BGLE 80th Anniversary Sea Kayak Expedition Antarctica 2017. BGLE stands for British Graham Land Expedition. This expedition took place in 1934-37 and was led by Australian John Rymill. The expedition performed valuable scientific and exploratory work in this relatively unknown region with the northern base being on Argentine Island which was our expedition’s final destination.
Rymill was also the surrogate leader of a previous expedition in East Greenland in 1932 whose aim was to investigate the possibility of establishing a transcontinental air route between England and Canada. They were sponsored for this expedition by PanAm airlines.
The Greenland expedition was based in Tugtilik (also known as Lake Fjord) which is 100kms north of the nearest tiny settlement of Sermiligaq pop. 230. Sermiligaq is in itself a very remote location and Tugtilik is extremely remote. Rymill had to take control of the expedition after its leader, Gino Watkins, died in a hunting accident very shortly after reaching Tugtilik.
I paddled to Tugtilik with a small group in 2016 and we became only the 4th kayaking expedition to reach this location in the last 84 years. Hence, there was a tangible link between my East Greenland expedition and this latest Antarctic expedition.
The distance between the start point, Enterprise Island, and Argentine Island was 300km and this involved paddling a stunning yet at the same time, deadly coastline. Landing places are few and far between with huge, unstable ice cliffs or vertical rock faces between. Icebergs are an ever present threat as they can capsize without warning and glacier faces can be equally unstable, calving spontaneously. Likewise the weather was a serious consideration, with the possibility of violent katabatic winds always in the background (as we found out one day!)
But the rewards were immense, as we sighted whales, seals and penguins in one of Earth’s most spectacular locations as we paddled the Antarctic coastline.
I took a new Mont Epoch tent with me, slept in a Mont Spindrift sleeping bag and kept warm during the day wearing Mont Polartec Power Stretch Pro fleece under my Icicle jacket. This stuff works and I was not once cold.
A wonderful trip to an awesome location!
Mont Ambassador, wilderness and landscape photographer, explorer
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