June 20, 2012
I have an idea for a story. A thriller set in Antarctica. A tale of exploitation and greed, of man’s short-sighted, self-destructive impulses; a tale of survival against all odds and one man’s attempt to stop a global, environmental catastrophe. A battle between the forces of good and evil, the odds stacked in favour of the villain.
But to understand how my hero can survive the horrors I will be putting him through, I am going to experience Antarctica first-hand: feel its cold clawing at my bones and its dryness as I dehydrate, smell the ammonia of pink penguin faeces, hear a fur seal bark like a dog, touch ancient ice, and experience the feeling I have stepped into a time capsule as I visit old, abandoned stations, expecting the occupants to return at any moment. I want to be awed at Antarctica’s beauty, experience its isolation, fear its ferocious and unpredictable weather and its turbulent seas, and understand why so many of those who visit this great white continent are drawn back again and again.
So I fly to Ushuaia in Argentina and from there I will board a former Russian oceanographic research vessel, The Professor Multanovskiy. I will cross the infamous Drake Passage and will travel down the Antarctic Peninsula until I cross the Antarctic Circle. I plan to get my hands dirty. Well, icy anyway.
What exactly is the Antarctic Circle? It’s the parallel of latitude that runs 66° 33′ 44″ south of the Equator and it encircles Antarctica. As Wikipedia puts it: ‘Every place south of the Antarctic Circle experiences a period of twenty-four hours continuous daylight at least once per year, and a period of twenty-four hours continuous night time at least once per year.’
To write my action adventure, I am going on my own adventure. Come and join me as I experience swells that threaten to swallow our ship, glaciers the size of small countries, and learn about life in the coldest place on Earth.
Interesting info: Antarctica is dryer than the Sahara Desert.
Photo © L.A. Larkin 2012