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Kayaking around Antarctic Peninsula

Kayaking around Antarctic Peninsula

© International Polar Foundation

The Chilean explorer Christian Donoso and his companion Mario Sepúlvedra plan to embark on an unusual trip of over 1 600 km around the Antarctic Peninsula. One part of this journey will be by kayak, while the other will be on foot, trekking over the high plateaux, using their sea-kayaks as sledges.

The idea is unusual in that few polar adventurers these days seem to take much of an interest in the Antarctic Peninsula, no doubt because there are too many people from the various scientific bases in the area. And yet, according to many researchers, it is precisely in this particular area of the frozen continent that global warming is having the most spectacular effect. For example, between January and March 2002, a huge ice shelf over 3 250 km² in area and 200 metres high broke off from the coast of the Peninsula in just a few months, sounding the alarm for the community of glaciologists the world over. This is no doubt what caused the two men to reflect, because they say that the main aim of their adventure is to take as many photos and films as they can to illustrate the dramatic melting of the Antarctic ice in this part of the continent.

Which is also why they opted to do their trip in two parts: the first by sea-kayak (Donoso was rewarded with one of the famous Rolex Awards For Enterprise in 2006 for his exploration by kayak of the channels of Patagonia), and the other on foot, scaling peaks and plateaux -and coming up with the clever idea of using their kayaks as sledges.

Donoso and Sepúlvedra will be dropped of in mid-November at a place called Portal Point on the Peninsula coast, just opposite Brabant Island; from there, they'll set out to deposit a cache of supplies on the plateau before returning to the coast and continuing their journey by kayak. In fact, they will kayak to the extreme north of the Antarctic Peninsula and then head south with the intention of reaching Victory Glacier on foot. Once there, they will take their equipment and climb up the plateau and turn due south towards Margarita Bay - passing by the cache of supplies dropped off a few weeks previously at the top of Portal Point. Their trip will end by paddling across the sea to Petermann Island, a tiny scrap of land barely two kilometres away at 65 deg 10 min S and 64 deg 10 min W, just a few cable lengths from the coast of the Peninsula and close to the Lemaire Channel.

Their plan is to complete the trip within two months.

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