Thursday, December 14, 2006

King Edward Point, South Georgia

King Edward Point (KEP) was only one night’s steam from Bird Island, made all the quicker by an excellent cocktail night complete with bar girls, black‑tie waiters and my first stint on the wheels of steel in front of a BAS crowd.

South Georgia has its own governor and is the most southerly point in British Territory (territorial claims on Antarctica were frozen in the 1962 Antarctic Treaty). It is also the only BAS base to have been taken by force in the 1982 war with Argentina, although this was done in a bizarre gentlemanly fashion with the captain of the Argentine warship relaying communications from KEP to London for several days before attacking! The Royal Marines who defended the station and BAS scientists based there were captured and later released in Uruguay. Fascinating reading: Click for more.

A short walk from KEP is the abandoned Norwegian whaling station, Grytviken. Having seen Simon Faithfull’s excellent exhibition of stills and video, Iceblink , I was keen to roam around the decaying buildings, imagining how the industry would have worked. Sadly, this opportunity was spoiled by a needlessly heavy-handed ‘clean up’ of the station in which most of the buildings had been demolished and all artefacts removed. It may be argued this was done for safekeeping, but I believe it was more likely to prevent the South Georgia Government being sued by American cruise-ship tourists, should they trip over something interesting!

This disappointment was soon forgotten as we climbed the glacier and scree slopes of Mt Hudson to be greeted with stunning views over Cumberland Bay. On the descent we also got our last swim for a year, diving into a beautifully clear (if a little chilly) lake. Dropping down from the lake, we paid our respects at the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, a hero in the minds of FIDs and sailors alike.

Some really nice photos herePosted by Picasa


Blogger Nick said...

Shackleton is a hero in the minds of some of us mortals that are incredibly jealous of your whole trip.

2:32 pm GMT  

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