Stuart’s Conclusion

David has done a fantastic job of summarising the activities each day so I won’t repeat them. I’ll reflect on the experiences and gains.

I must admit I went into the trip without any expectations, just an open mind and I stayed humble when I met my travel companions, ranging from the best and brightest from companies around the world to people so passionate about Antarctica they had saved their whole life to afford this trip. These people already knew everything there was to know about Antarctica before even making their first landfall; visiting was just the natural culmination of their life’s efforts so far. I learnt to admire the passion these people showed. It was infectious and I know understand why we must protect this last great wilderness.

 

IMG_0450I set myself a few goals on the trip:

  • To speak to as many of the participants as possible as head their stories from around the world
  • To volunteer first for every opportunity that arose during the trip
  • To spend as little time as possible in my cabin (why travel to Antarctica and stay in your cabin?)
  • Continue the development started during the 2041 lecture programme

 

DCIM100GOPROIn pursuit of the first goal I think I sat with 80-90% of the participants and guides. The stories are incredible, from Indians trying to breakout of the Middle classes and ending up to help govern their home provinces with 10millions inhabitants to sustainability leaders taking 7 years to setup an “environment base” to educate others about Antarctica to a guy who has visited North Korea.  The trip was replete with diversity – there were 3 film crews alone on the trip along with research scientists conducting pioneering research into the degradation and dispersal of waste plastics. Every story was fantastic and where else do you get to mix with such an eclectic group? Socially it was exciting – I’ve never danced a tradition Indian dance to Bollywood music….

In respect of the second goal I did EVERYTHING, from the polar plunge to being the lead of the lead rope team down a glacier… I loved every second.  I went on every excursion, every landfall, the survival night and more…  Here I am leading the rope team (we are tied together in teams of 8 for safety in case the lead (me) falls down a crevasse)…

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I am so happy I had the third goal as this meant I spent the most time on deck and consequently I was one of only 5 people to win a prize on the trip from Rob Swan… The ‘on deck’ prize – for the person who made the most of every second possible – coming from such an inspirational legend this is something I will cherish forever. Truly I wish I didn’t need sleep so I could have spent more time outside.

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I enjoyed the lecture programme Rob had arranged and I learnt a lot about how to present as well as soaking up the actual content of the programme. I think I continue the leadership programme which was based on a book called “finding your true north”.

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I’d like to think I achieved all the goals I set all plus I have two more goals now…

  • Visit Antarctica again in my lifetime
  • Work to protect it

I’ve made some lifelong friends, forged in the Antarctic desert. When you experience something like that as a team you can’t help but end up permanently bonded and I already have invites to visit my new friends in Monaco, India, USA, UAE and more…

IMG_0418Lastly where else can you be metres from whales, seals and penguins in the wild?

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Thank you to Kevin, Dawn, Shaun, Phil, Rob Swan and everyone who made this possible and encouraged me to go and Dave for keeping me sane on the immense flights to the end of the world.

Lastly thank you to my girlfriend for putting up with all my stories that now start “when I was in Antartica…”

 

 

David’s Conclusion

What an experience, its difficult to describe all the events, feelings and spoken words throughout our 14 day journey.

For me there were several firsts, swimming in the Antarctic sea, camping on Antarctica, seeing whales and many more smaller events that will all stay with me for the rest of my life.  Yes a truely life changing experience, I look upon the world in a different way, not with cynicism but with hope.

A major part of the expedition for me was to explore the realms of leadership, to gain further knowledge and expand my own leadership skills.  I learned how knowing yourself, your own fundemental values is key to becoming the leader you want to be, an authentic leader who people enjoy working with.  Having an understanding of your own strengths born from those beliefs and leading from those strengths with a support team that complement you.  Making responsible desicions and how they effect those around you, including your community, consider the longer term outcome of those desicions.

Antactica a unique place, beautiful in its majestic way, a barometer for the health of the planet.  Robert Swans mission is to keep it like that, untouched, unspoiled for future generations to see.  He understands the importance of this place and how it is our responsibility to ensure its future, our responsability to make the right desicions through the choices we make.  Our leaders, both governmental and business have an obligation to look to the future and consider the impact of policies.

I recommend further individuals have the opportunity to do what myself and Stuart have done, attend an expedition with 2041.com, it will challenge them in many different ways and develop their skills beyond any classroom in Croydon can ever do.

Thank you to all those who helped and supported us on this journey.

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Sunday 22nd March

We are in a volcano, wierd but true, Deception Island is an arctic coldera, which is a volcano collapsed upon itself.  Its still active and you can feel the warm sand on the beach where hot springs warm it up.  Last errupted back in 1970, it has small crators around its edge and further evidence of those recent erruptions.
Deception Island is so called due to access to the centre of the caldera is a narrow opening, difficult to spot, even in good conditions.

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We had two walks today, a walk around one of the craters described to us by one of the Quark team, about the erruption and effect on the surrounding glacier.

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A visit to the Whaling Station in a seperate bay was our next destination, an old whaling station where the oil was extracted and stored before shipping around the world for lighting and heating homes.

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There is alot of history in Antarctica and acts as a reminder for future generations.

Our second walk took us up 400m from the beach to the rim of the caldera, giving us magnificent panoramic views of Deception Island, a straight forward walk, windy at times with the need to rope up on our descent.

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This would be our last landing, we are heding back into Drakes Passage this evening.

Saturday 21st March

We were woken early this morning to get our feet onto deck 7, normally reserved for crew only, this was the top deck of the ship.  What greated us just 200m away was a huge tableau iceberg 1km in length, 70m high and approximately 250 billion tons.

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Today was a day of special events, first the iceberg, then later a pod of Orca whales graced us with their presence, around 30 including large males and calfs with their mothers.  I never thought i’d get to see killer whales like this only 20m away from the ship at times.

We headed for Browns Bluff but were unable to land due to the sea ice building up, it is the end of the summer down here, so the team had more exciting things for us instead.  A first for 2041 and the team, a landing on an iceberg, just a little one, but still an exciting event, imagine walking on an iceberg!

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Later that day, THE POLAR PLUNGE! need I say more?

Camp night

A highlight for me I’ve been looking forward to this event ever since I herd we had a chance to sleep on the ice. To sleep on the ice you have to protect yourself from the cold as much as possible that means thick down sleeping bag, plenty of thermal underwear and a bivvi bag, a robust outer sleeping bag to protect you from the elements.  In addition we dug a pit in the snow and ice, about 6inches deep, enough to build a surrounding wall used as a wind break, essential.

-7 degrees with occasional snow flurries and clear skies, ideal, slept well and saw the ‘southern cross’ and parts of the Milky Way a very fulfilling experience for me, one that everyone should do once in there lives.

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Thursday 19th ‘Flag Day’

Travelling through the night the ship reached Neko Harbour a natural bay surrounded by huge glaciers.

So the flag day is all about having your picture taken with Robert Swan OBE holding one side of your country or company or product flag that you have.  Speaking to Robert later he shared with me how demanding the day was with over 80 participants from 29 countries having several photos each, one very important time for most as there is always a moment of pride when the flags come out.

We walked up to a point called Meditation Rock where people could reflect and view this magnificent bay from a vantage and watch the light change as the clouds moved effortlessly in the sky. The wind caused a small windchill of -10 which cooled us down and reminded us of where we were.

A huge leapord seal followed our zodiac back to the ship, the water here is crystal clear so we could track his movements under water as it darted from one side to the other, these animals are big, they have a huge head muscly and full of razor sharp teeth. It’s agile beyond it’s size, its at least 7ft long and looks about 200lb (I’m guessing).

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Leadership Wednesday

we talked about getting to ourselves and using team members to help us find our strengths. This is done by sharing a story in our lives where we made a mistake as a leader and then sharing two or more stories of success. Then they give you feedback on what you have just told them, pointing out to you what your strengths are, this is important for finding where your strengths lie.  It can take some time but is very rewarding and beneficial exercise, remember leading from your strengths is where you can make a difference

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First landing

Booth island, my first steps onto the finest continent of them all! That’s just my opinion but it makes me smile to write that.

We had our first “mountaineering” day, this enabled Jason to assess people’s ability and provide rope training for the crevasse riddled walk over a glacier programmed in a few days. It went well some basic knots, everyone did well as we headed up the snow slope to “The Port Charcot” memorial. For some people on this expedition it was their first time seeing snow, a strange concept to our wintry isles but fascinating all the same. Needless to say everyone enjoyed themselves and a friendly multi national snowball fight broke out. A joyous day.

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Wednesday 18th March

Early morning start before breakfast we were out on the bow watching the ship steer carefully through the Lamaire Channel a narrow passage between mountains rising 900m vertically out of the sea on both sides with only 400m between them.  The weather is cold and gloomy but this just adds to the very tense dramatic feel of what’s happening around us. Since we arrived in Antarctica there is a reel feeling of danger, Antarctica is beautiful and quiet and prestine and inviting like siren beckoning you to reach out and touch her, only you somehow know not to because if you do, she will grab you and pull you into the icy water where there is only one outcome! Calling for your mummy isn’t going to help.

Our first cruise in the zodiacs, nikki our driver manoeuvres our boat with precision carving her way through a myriad of stranded icebergs these are beautiful the light enhances the depth of colour, blues like you have never seen before.  A bunch of wildlife too, Gentoo penguins porpoising through the water only feet away, fur seals and crab eater seals (which don’t actually eat crabs) lazing around on the odd iceberg here and there.  Spotted and carefully approached by our skilled driver from Team Quark.

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Leadership Tuesday

We have had several discussions about leader and what it means to us, it is very subjective in that each person will have their own style of leadership that should play to that individuals strengths.

here are some points made during the lecture;

  • Leaders drive positive change
  • leaders by choice, not admission
  • leaders learn and we can all improve as leaders
  • our power as leaders comes primarily from our experience, our life story

These are just a few discussion points, it is our decisions and chioces as leaders that define us, best taken from a position of strength, so you must understand your strength and consider our choices with care.

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