Students On Ice Antarctica 2004

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Posted: 6:30 pm
Expedition Update
Geoff Green


The Polar Star today!!Hello everyone ... sorry this is a bit delayed ... we lost contact this morning due to some mountains in our way. Here are some more photos from Dec.23rd, and an update!!!

What a day today!! We awoke to Humpback whales and then made an early landing this morning at Baily Head on the "outside" of Deception Island. This is one of the most spectacular spots in the Antarctic Peninsula, however due to a very exposed beach it is often difficult to make a landing, and we you do it is a wet one. Well, we did it thanks to our intrepid group, great Zodiac drivers and fearless shore party!

Greeting us on the volcanic beach were thousands of Chinstrap penguins! But that was just a taste of things to come, because further up the "penguin highway" we arrived to a giant amphitheatre of close of half a million Chinstraps! A superbowl of penguins. (
More about Chinstraps)
Chinstrap Penguins

The group stood in awe and wonder of this incredible wilderness site! As far as the eye could see were penguins, even nesting up in the high cliff of the volcanic caldera. A cacaphony of penguins calling filled the air. Pure and simple, it made you feel like a visitor in another world.
Eroded Iceburg

Due to worsening sea conditions, we decided to hike across the island into the inner caldera and have the ship meet us there in calmer waters. The hike was a great adventure for all and the students really did well. It was a happy and hungry group that descended the mountain into Whaler's Bay and the old whaling station on the inside of this enormous flooded caldera.

After lunch we repositioned the ship to Pendulum Cove, where geothermal activity heats up the water along the shore. We then went ashore for an Antarctic swim!! in order to join the Antarctic swim team, the students and staff first had to jump into the freezing cold ocean and then they could come into the heated part! I think we set a new record for the number of swimmers.

It has been a great Christmas Eve! And it is not over yet! In a few minutes we will be sailing out through Neptune's Bellows, leaving Deception Island behind, and then crossing the Bransfield Strait towards the Gerlache Strait tonight. Christmas carols and icebergs on on tonight's program.

From all of the Students on Ice team here on the Polar Star in Antarctica, we want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!!! Until tomorrow!

Bruce - Photographer On Ice!!

Expedition Journals
for yesterday Dec 24th

Mosesie Arlooktoo

Ashley and Moe
I went to Deception Island today. I was watching 2 Humpback whales early this morning. I woke up 6:15 am (4:15 am back home) and I couldn't go back to sleep and there was a wake up call at 6:30 am. They also said that there were 2 humpbacks around Deception Island. We hiked about 3 miles over a dormant volcano. There were lots of chinstrap penguins on the way.
We also went swimming in the Antarctic waters! First we had to jump in the cold water and then into the geothermally heated hot water. I am now officially a member of the Antarctic Swim Club.

Please don't drink and drive over the holidays. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To my friends from back home, I can't bring back a penguin.


Jess Loding

Mwmbers of the Club!!So here I am on Christmas Eve, staring out through the window at the boat's wake, listening to a group sing Christmas carols beside me, writing my second journal entry for a day that truly cannot be topped (literally). In a day of pain, firsts, and penguins, few can top the events that have unfolded. By pain I do not mean getting to know my bathroom even better than what I already have, but rather the burn of my muscles from climbing across Deception Island. The journey, although unplanned, turned us into true expeditioners rather than tourists. The mountains were steep, long, and sometimes never ending but the sight of the caldera emerging as we rounded the last ridge no words can describe. But of course, what must go up must come down. Walking down seems logical yet less exciting. So one by one we sat down on the packed snow, letting the wind whip our hair, as we slid down the steep mountain side to Whalers' Bay. In some way, the ride down the mountain side on my butt balanced the climb it took us to get to the top. But the excitement did not end there. Finally, a week's wait has ceased: I saw my first whale! Although nothing more than a black dot barely in front of the horizon along with the occasional puff, it was still a whale. Finally, with the cherry on top, I became a member of the Antarctic Swim Team; only few can say they swam in the Antarctic waters in snow with a seal. It was some Christmas Eve J Time to go party!!!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

Lots of love,


Katie King

Hi Everyone!
I am now a proud member of the Antarctic swim team! This afternoon, I put on my shorts and bikini top and took a quick dip in the Pendulum Cove waters. After diving in the cold area for about 30 seconds, I swam over to the shore, which was geothermally heated. While we were sitting in our natural hot tub, we saw a seal swimming about 15 feet in front of us. We were surrounded by mountains and a few snowflakes were swirling around us. Definitely an interesting way to spend Christmas Eve! I wonder how many other people in the world could say that they spent Christmas Eve swimming in the Antarctic with a seal. Yesterday morning was also amazing. We got to spend a few hours observing penguins! They were so adorable! They were a little cautious of us, but if you were still, they would come up very close. We watched them jump around the water like dolphins, feed their babies, pick up rocks, slide around on their bellies, and play on icebergs. Anyways, Mom, if you are reading this, don't be worried about me, we are not able to email or call people from the boat, but I am fine and have not had any problems with seasickness. I hope you're having fun in Ireland! Merry Christmas!

Eric Prouty

This is certainly one Christmas Eve I will never forget. Not only is this the first time I've been away for Christmas Eve, but it's the only time I'll spend it on Deception Island, Antarctica. This morning I woke up and to tell the truth it felt like any other morning. The special part started when I looked out the window and was faced with the volcanic cliff side of Deception Island riddled with patches of ice and snow. After breakfast I was really looking forward to landing on Baily Head. The zodiac ride was exciting, on account of the fact that we had to ride the surf into the beach and according to the people already there, our zodiac actually got some hang-time coming off the wave. I stepped onto the black volcanic sand of the island and was immediately confronted with a group of Chinstrap penguins assembled along the beach. They are extremely entertaining to watch. Among the Colony!!Up further over the ridge I could hear and definitely smell a rookery. What I didn't realize is that the rookery probably had 400,000+ penguins in it and one of the largest chinstrap rookeries in the world. As I traveled up the "Penguin Highway" I was absolutely amazed at the sheer number of the penguins who sprawled over the entire mountainside. We hiked down the valley and between the large groups of chinstraps, where their natural smells were ever-present. We started the trek up the other side and were informed that we would be crossing Deception Island and descending into Whalers' Bay where the ship would be waiting for us. What we didn't realize is that the way not only involved traversing steep hills and steep snowdrifts but was over three miles. We set out full of excitement and energy but by the time we crested the second ridge the general energy was somewhat diminished to say the least. It was here that the group decided to take five minutes to absorb the sounds of Antarctica. Our group fell silent, as the collective calls of the penguins grew louder. At DeceptionThe wind whistled over the cold mountainside. I breathed in the chill air and listened to the sounds of the land. It was a truly amazing moment in the day. Despite the burning in my legs I managed, a few hours later, to rest. Upon seeing the wrecked whaling station in the distance I imagined I felt like Shackleton did at the tail end of his Endurance expedition, except that I had been hiking for roughly an hour or two and he had completed an 800 mile trip in basically a lifeboat and hiked through treacherous conditions. I arrived at the bottom in a variety of ways including sledding, without the sled. The whaling station was a ghost town situated on the bay situated in steaming caldera of the volcano. I made my way slowly through the crumbling houses and assorted wreckage; I thought what life must have been like when the station operated. I made my way to the zodiacs, passing first through the enormous tanks, used previously for whale oil. The dark silence inside was oppressing and eerie. I stepped through the steam to the zodiac for the trip back. The midafternoon was spent lounging on the boat and preparing for the Antarctic Swim. When the time arrived we traveled to a place called Pendulum Cove, which was located farther along the island. It, as well as the rest of the island has a really interesting history which was explained in the daily recap by both Fred and Fletch. For the sake of space I'll omit it, but it is good. The swim was quite an experience. It basically involved the removing of all the normal outdoor gear to stand on the volcanic sand in a bathing suit. Next you sprint into the freezing lake and take a nice dive. From there you move rather quickly to land in thermal heated water, averaging 115 degrees. That's a shock to the system. Then eventually you get out and dry off as the snow falls on you. Without proper explanation it would seem really strange. It felt it too. But then again that will be the only time I'll spend my Christmas Eve swimming in Antarctica. The rest of the day passed quickly involving dinner, celebrations, and a beautiful evening. Over all, quite a memorable day. Now I'd like to take the time to say Merry Christmas to my mom, dad, and sister as well as grandma and grandpa. I look forward to seeing you again. As you can tell I'm having a great time the whole experience is amazing. Places, people, everything. Now I'll say hi to anyone who might know me and happen to be reading this. I think that's everything, unless you happen to be on the west swim team, then I'll wonder how you found this but in any case hello. Well, that's all. This took awhile to write, it may be the only one. If so, I'll talk to you when I get back.


Adelie Penguins!

Max and Jeanne

It was the night before Christmas and as we set sail
Not a creature was stirring not even a whale
The laundry was hung in the hallways with care
In hopes that room cleaning would soon be there.
I in my cabin and you in your house
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap
When out of the blue there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
The penguins were here. They were here to attack.
They wanted redemption. One tried to choke me with a sack

(long break)

And Geoff said with a shout "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Max and Jeanne

Sasha Agosta

Today is Christmas Eve and it really doesn't feel like it at all, without all of the decorations and TV things sort of get lost in the moment. And I still can't get an update on the latest football scores which kind of sucks but it's ok I can let it slide this time. Well today we entered Deception Island which is made up of beautiful mountains which we got to know very early in the morning, we woke up around 6:30 for a 7:00 breakfast and then off on the zodiacs. We landed on the island at about 8:30 and were greeted by tons of chinstrap penguins going in out of the water and up and down the mountains to get food. Well after spending a little time with the penguins we were told we were going to hike up and over a mountain to meet the ship because the water was too harsh to go back by zodiac. So we started up the mountain with lots of little penguins waddling right beside us. As we got higher and higher the penguins disappeared and it was only snow and rocks the rest of the way. The walk was so tiring and it took tons of energy from every person just to make it half way up, it was a huge hike up and just when we thought it was over we had to go up another big hill to reach the very top. When we finally made it we looked over the other side and it was so steep and we all wondered how we were going to get down. We walked right up to the side of the mountain and literally jumped and slid right down the side of the mountain which made the whole entire walk worth while. We walked a little more and were finally at the beach and back to the ship. Everyone was starving so we ate lunch and just hung out for a while before getting the announcement that we were going SWIMMING in ANTARCTICA, at first I didn't want to go because I didn't want to come back smelling like sulphur but I finally decided to go just for that experience and to be able to say I swam in Antarctica. So we got down to the beach and we stripped down to our bathing suits and jump in the freezing cold water and then ran back to the hot springs. That was just a very odd feeling because your toes could be freezing but your ankles could be burning hot. It was an amazing feeling and one that I will definitely never forget and then getting out was a whole other experience as everyone ran to get a towel and to get back on the boat. I went back with my snow pants over my wet shorts, my boots with no socks and rocks in them, and finally my jacket with no shirt. It was really cold and we got back to the boat real fast and I got right into the shower after dropping my stuff in the mud room. Of course the shower pressure was off because everyone was taking a shower so that got really annoying really quick. Finally I was clean and comfortable and all of that took place before 4:00 and that is where I will leave it.



Today we did a hike on the on Antarctica Mountain
We also made history yesterday by stepping on ice
Snow was nice by the way we have snow for Christmas
I miss you and love

Trudy Lum, Chaperone

Imagine standing in a Chinstrap penguin rookery looking at over 250,000 nesting penguins, not counting the chicks or the adult penguins out at sea trying to catch their next meal of delicious krill!!!!. Penguins everywhere!!!! The sounds, the smells and the sights were spectacular!!! Emilie and Sophie you would have loved to see the baby penguin chicks, each one in grey down and very soft and fluffy looking.

A three mile hike over Deception Island provided breath taking views of the peaks, valleys and volcanic ash covered cliffs. Some of us lingered behind in hopes of spotting a humpback whale in the waters below or to just enjoy the silence and beauty of Antarctica. A body slide down into Whalers Bay brought us back to our ship and a hot nourishing lunch!!! Merry Christmas to my family and friends!!!


Adelina Aramburo, the luckiest Chaperone

Words to describe Christmas Eve Day on the Polar Star with Students on Ice:
DISGUSTING - we woke up to backed up water in many of the port side rooms.
EXCITING - getting into the zodiacs to do a surf landing at Deception Island.
AWESTRUCK - by hundreds of thousands of chinstrap penguins & their newly hatched chicks all around us!
EXHAUSTING - as we climbed and climbed over beautiful snow covered hills..
EXHILIRATING - was the feeling we all felt as sped down the hills on our bottoms!
GRATEFUL to be here with the best group ever!

Every day an adventure…
Saludos a todos - Feliz cumpleanos, Analis.
--Adelina Aramburo

Ali and Dan

Merry Christmas eve everyone. Today was interesting. Today for breakfast we had some French toast and some bacon along with side dishes of fruit and other breakfast related items. After breakfast, the Seal team prepared for their Zodiac excursion while the Penguin team waited their turn. On the way to Deception Island, I saw a penguin, it turned me on. We experienced rough waters on the way to the island and could not return to the boat on the designated route. It was insane. Instead, we hiked across the grueling island snow over ice and penguin guano. Everyone fell, a lot, some more than others (Jeanne). Once we reached the top, we slid down the other side using only the clothes on our backs. Then we walked down to the beach through the whaling station. There was then some more sliding of our clothing during which, Joe and myself, (Dan), fell numerous times. Once back on the ship we engaged in an awesome lunch of Pasta. Then we changed into our bathing suits and returned to the zodiacs for an Antarctic swimming experience. Once on the beach we all stripped down to our bathing suits and ran into the water. Martin, Bobby, Patrick, and James all sported their new speedos. The water futher out was really cold, but the water next to shore was so hot we felt like we were being burned. Sitting in the water you were getting burned on one side and froze on the other. Then we all dried off and went back to the ship. After taking showers and warming up we sat through a lecture about Marine Ecology. It was invigorating, insightful, and informative. After that we had yet another amazing recap and briefing, with speeches by Fred, Dave, and of course Geoff speaking. We then headed down to the dining hall for an impressive dinner of halibut and rice as well as lamb on this Christmas eve. After dinner, we headed up to the lounge and started to type this journal entry. Now we have nothing to write about because it hasn't happened yet but later on we're meeting in our POD groups for some exciting speeches and some bonding.

Love always, and Merry Christmas,
Ali and Dan

Bridget Azera

Christmas eve is marvelous in Antarctica! We spent the day on Deception Island and I will never forget this day in my life! Wake up call was at 7:00 am and that was when the adventure started. After breakfast, we went for an adventure on Deception Island. When we arrived, we saw a lot of penguins - they were our hosts. We walked for several kilometers in order to get into the volcano caldera that had filled with water, and where the Polar Star (our ship) was waiting for us. That journey will never be forgotten! I was so tired, but it was part of the experience. One thing that got me excited was when after we climbed to the top, we had to slide all the way to the bottom of the mountain on our own bottoms. Wheeeeeeee! We slid fast all the way down, and it did not feel real to me! It was really exciting! I'm now part of the Atlantic Swim Team which is marvelous. I never imagined swimming in cold water, much less cold water in Antarctica!

This has really inspired me and will help me discover my true potential - thanks to Mr. Snyder, who sponsored me in making this dream come true.


Genevieve Fontanier

Today was without a doubt the greatest day of my life…I never in my short life thought I could be hiking through snow-covered mountains and be comfortably close to penguins in Antarctica. On this Christmas Eve, we began our day early, getting up at 6:00 a.m. After breakfast, we proceeded to board the zodiacs and head off to one of the largest penguin rookeries in the world, Deception Island - there were supposedly half a million chinstrap penguins. It was quite incredible seeing and hearing so many, especially in one place. Because the sea had high swells and the shore was rough, we had to hike around the island in order to be able to get back on the ship. We hiked for several hours; although it was a little tough, it was one of my best experiences yet. I had never seen real snow before this trip, so I was in awe at all the great things happening around me. We tracked up and down mountain after mountain, through miles of snow; I was totally stupefied - to be in Antarctica and climbing snowy mountains is just something no one near me has ever done or even thought of doing. After hiking up for miles, we were able to slide down a huge mountain and trek into the center towards where our ship was awaiting us. Once again, I was totally amazed.

After a nice lunch, we embarked yet again to do what I thought was unthinkable - most of us took a dip in the Antarctic waters, both the cold and hot. I must say, it was a great experience, but not one I would want to repeat. I am not a fan of the cold, and swimming in it was not too fun. I stayed in the water for about three minutes and had enough.
The expeditions of today were awesome. This trip has made me think a lot more about nature and changing the world in which I live to help protect it. I know that when I return home, I will not be the same person I once was. I will definitely try my hardest to come back to this great continent to examine more of the stupendous sights.


Mandi Nix

Hey Mommy and Daddy and who ever are reading this!

OMG! Today was completely awesome! We went to Deception Island and saw Chinstrap penguins. Chinstrap penguins are exactly the same size as Adelie penguins. All the penguins remind me of back home at our grocery store, H-E-B, or Target. There were soooo many, just like the Grackles (black birds). The whole scene also reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds". While at Deception Island, we went on an extremely steep, long, hard, icy, hot, cold, sweaty, and "spur of the moment hike." The hike took 5 hours and was so tiring. On the way down we slid down on our hinies. After lunch and a short break we went to another part of Deception Island, but this time not for a hike. This time we went for a swim in the geothermally heated southern Antarctic Ocean and in doing so, we joined the Antarctic Swim Team. The water was 45 degrees Celsius and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I stepped right in it. YeeOUCH! It burned. Once I got in the water was warm. If I moved like two inches further out, it was completely freezing! If I moved two inches back, it was too hot. I couldn't win with that one but, it did feel good. To make it even better, a real live seal swam up within 10 feet of us. This was one completely outrageous Christmas Eve. I'm glad I am here even though I miss being with my family on Christmas Eve for the White Elephant. I am so happy I got to go on this trip. Thanks Mom and Dad. Believe me; I have much more to say when I get home. Be ready to have your ears yapped off! I love ya!


Theresa Graham

I am here having a blast here with all my new friends. Today we did lots of unexpected stuff such as climb a volcano, go swimming in a really hot hole and in really cold water, and we had some POD meetings. Today was a LONG day but it was one of the more fun days of all of them. We have been doing lots of very fun stuff; I have never done stuff like this before. I have so many new friends and I am enjoying this once in a life time trip. MERRY CHRISTMAS every one!



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Antarctica Expedition
December 17 - 31st, 2004

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