A Dragonfly (Libellule) in Antarctica!

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"We made it back: after 5 days in the Drake Passage we finally sighted the legendary and impressive rock of Cape Horn - the first time we see land in 5 days and the first time we see land without ice and snow in almost 5 weeks! You might wonder: How was the mighty Drake Passage this time? Drake Lake or Drake Shake? It was not too bad, but pretty bad. With winds up to 35 knots and waves up to 4 m there was enough to make us sick and very happy to be back on the other side. We were 3 French sailors and 4 Swiss alpinists. And Antarctica? The colours are white and black. Everything is either white (snow, ice, sky) or black (water, rocks). Sometimes there is a little bit of blue from the icebergs or the very rare sunny sky patches. The sailing on the Peninsula was relatively easy wind-wise (no winds above 25kn), but difficult from a navigational point of view (no accurate maps, lots of hidden rocks just below the surface). The ice conditions were relatively easy compared to the NW Passage, except south of Vernadsky where this year access to the coast was impossible. We anchored in 10 different spots and found most of them relatively safe, meaning ground holding of anchor successful after several attempts, 2-4 ropes tied to adjacent rocks, and nightly anchor watches due to moving ice. In most anchorages we were quite busy during the night pushing away ice floes moving in and out with the tides or the winds. The best memories: the rugged, white, inaccessible and vast landscapes; the abundant maritime life with whales, penguins, seals, and birds everywhere; penguins are absolutely fascinating; and the mink whale swimming right between our two hulls was unbelievable. Climbing Mt Matin & the first ascent of (yet to be named) Mt Libellule; the Bragg Islands anchorage at 66°28'S ; treacherous Cape Horn; we ate huge quantities and still felt hungry all the time (due to the cold), in fact we all lost weight during the expedition despite feasting like ogres. And the worst memories: cold feet on the unheated boat (frost-nips); lack of sleep; dehydrated food on the mountain trips."

Philipp Cottier, on board Libellule

A Dragonfly (Libellule) in Antarctica

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