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Antarctica adventure — part one

11:00 AEST Thu Jul 8 2010
We first met Caroline Pemberton when she represented Australia in the Miss World pageant in China. Then we followed her to East Timor where she had taken up the cause of a local orphanage.

Now Caroline has fulfilled another of her lifelong ambitions — visiting Antarctica, the last frontier — and she has recorded the adventure for Getaway. The coldest, driest, windiest place on earth presented Caroline with another challenge, and there's nothing she enjoys more.

The 10-day adventure began in the southernmost city on earth — Ushuaia in Argentina where you board Professor Multinovskiy, a Russian icebreaker. It heads into Drake Passage, an 800km-wide body of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula.

It's said to be the roughest ocean there is. If you enter when it's dead flat, it's known as Drake Lake. If not, you will share Caroline's experience on Drake Shake. Her initiation was coupled with two days of sea sickness but that seemed to disappear with her first view of a glacier.

Her first look was from a porthole at 5am and with all of her worldly experiences, Caroline said this one was the most incredible. It took her breath away. You hear giant brilliant blue and white icebergs cracking as they loom majestically from the freezing water.

Passengers in Zodiacs were amazed by the presence of whales and seals. Three cute curious crabeater seals were close enough for everyone to realise they don't smell as pretty as they look.

Crabeater seals spend their entire lives in the pack ice surrounding Antarctica. They feed on krill, rest, breed, moult there, moving south in spring and north in autumn. They are the most numerous seal species in the Southern Ocean, weighing in at around 400kg and about 2.5m in length.

They breed from late September to early November and males generally stay around until pups are weaned but take no part in rearing them.

Next up, passengers' boundaries were well and truly put to the test with ice climbing at Pleneau Island. It's on the south side, ranging from difficult to extremely difficult.

Adorable Adélie penguins live on Pleneau. They nest and breed on the rocky, ice-free beaches in large colonies of tens of thousands. There are more than 2.5 million breeding pairs. Like all penguins, the Adélie is highly social, foraging and nesting in groups. They can also be aggressive, and woe betide another penguin trying to steal stone from nests.

On day four, Caroline realised a long-held wish to set foot on the seventh continent. While she loves the other six, this one was particularly special for her. Not all that comfortable with heights though, the prospect of climbing was quite daunting but there they were — 15 people, seven ropes and heading upwards in the Antarctic.

Legs cramped, arms were exhausted and breathing became difficult, but everyone encouraged one another. After plenty of slipping and sliding, they reached the top with a shared feeling of conquering the world.

The euphoria was slightly tarnished when they faced the next surprise. Just when they thought they couldn't possibly be any colder, the group took part in a polar plunge. Jumping into subzero water is like nothing Caroline had experienced.

You can't breathe, can't think and can barely move. Rather than feeling extremely cold, your skin feels as though it's burning. Another one to tick off the list.

Expedition leader Peter Bland's trips are all about encouraging people to challenge themselves with things they've never done before. They face any fears and apprehensions confidently and safely. Caroline found complete strangers became friends in a short time.

Everyone's expectations, including training, budget and communication, are considered before you set out. Information nights and get togethers are held in before departure. Singles, couples and groups travel in harmony and happiness.

An added bonus is that Peter will meet you in a camping store to assist you with choosing clothing — and you will receive a 20 percent discount. His 15 years of Antarctic experience means he speaks the language, has lots of friends and contacts and his itineraries are off the beaten track.

The first tourists arrived in the Antarctic in 1958. These days around 28,000 make the journey each year.

The best time to visit is between November and March when sea ice has melted and there are long hours of daylight.


From Ushuaia in Argentina to Antarctica.


Leadership on Ice 10-day journey to Antarctica costs $12,950 per person twin share from Ushuaia. It will run between February 22 and March 4, 2011. All activities and technical gear are provided. A cultural experience in Buenos Aires costs $2950. It includes two nights' accommodation in Buenos Aires and four nights' accommodation in Ushuaia. Breakfast and all activities are included.

For further information

Leadership on Ice
Ph: 0417 330 517
User comments
The cost of going to Antarctica published in the above article is very high, I went this year with GAP Adventure and for the amount published in the article, you can get a suite and it was a 13 days trip as well. In fact, if you book early enough, you can pay a lot less than that. I only paid just a little over $7000 (not including airfare to Argentina), and because I booked early, I got upgraded to the suite which is the highest level you can get in terms of accommodation. If you are thinking of going there, do it because I can assure you that it's definitely worth the money!
Congratulations Caroline on an excellent coverage of Antarctica on Getaway. You are a beautiful woman who brings & a very natural, friendly, down to earth presence to the show. I wish you all the best for a full time position and look forward to Part 2 on tonight!
Wow this sounds amazing something that is on my must do list
great story Caroline, someone should give you a fulltime job onthat show!! Your infectious personality would suit it very well...
Looking forward to watching Getaway this evening. I went to Antarctica last season with Chimu Adventures, Fantastic experience, from the Wildlife to the Glaciers so that makes tonight... A must watch!.. For anyone considering Antarctica as a destination.. do it!

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