Living on the edge

When you plan to visit Antarctica with a mix of people, young and old from all corners of the globe, and you will be spending loads of time together in close quarters on a boat – you know that you will form some fast friendships. In addition to the natural bonding that takes place, the 2041 team have some interesting networking activities and techniques they use.

We spent a night on the ice. A whole night in the dark wilderness. We were geared up with sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, heat pads, mats and all the layers layers layers we could put on. We parked the ship and the Zodiac boats took us all to shore with our gear – and they dropped us there.  Literally dropped us on a piece of land covered with ice with a view of the ocean and a back drop of a mountain. It was truly spectacular but is such a weird feeling to see the boats leave you there and the ship sail off around the bend to leave us in complete darkness and loneliness.

Antarctica evening

We all banded together to get our spot and we dug out small trenches surrounded by snow walls to shield us from the winds. I have never made a bed like this before so it was certainly different. We laid our sleeping bags in our man-made snow beds as close together as possible before the sun completely went down, and we were left with only a few head torches to guide us in the dark.

Before we slid inside our sleeping bags, we sat and listened to the sounds of Antarctica in all its glory. We listened to the sounds of the seals and penguins sitting on the shore right next to us. We listened to the waves coming to the shore and the ice cracking under pressure in the bay all around us. We listened to the birds and the winds.  It was so strange to not be surrounded by city noises and just be able to sit there and take it all in. We got into our beds, then surrounded by layers layers layers and looking like an Antarctic sausage all wrapped up, we laid and watched the most stars I have ever seen sparkling above us in the night sky. We survived the night and were awoken at about 5am with snow falling on us. It was a real sight when we emerged from our snow cocoons to see snow had fallen all over us and our things and it was like a winter wonderland paradise. Lucky for us we got through the night with some sleep, however some did not even get a wink. What an experience; what a story to tell; and what a relief it was to see the ship coming around the corner to come back for us…phew.

That wasn’t the only challenge Antarctica and 2041 had in store for us.  We also took on the challenge of the dreaded Polar Plunge! This expedition tradition was as horrible as it sounds. We are, however, proud to say that all three of the Bainies got to the edge of the boat in our bathing suits and jumped right off the edge into the Antarctic waters which were zero degrees. I can´t even find the words to describe the instant shock your body feels – and then while your limbs shut down, you try and swim back to the ship to get to your towel, a shred of warmth and shield against the icy winds. It honestly felt like I had 1000 knives stabbing my body all over, but the cheering from the other expedition goers really spurred you on.  What a massive sense of pride and achievement – we did it! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. It was by far the silliest thing I have ever done but once we had dried off and warmed up, you couldn’t get the smiles off our faces.  The ship was buzzing with proud faces and our experience of the deep dark cold was bringing us all together.

Although these activities might sound crazy, they really brought us together and have given us a great piece of Antarctic adventure to bring back with us.

What will you do today to step out of your comfort zone?

– Kate

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