Friday, July 6, 2018

Nowhere to go but South

When it was time to head out, the captain turned the ship around and hoped to take the original route back, as it would be much smoother and less stressful on his passengers.  But he found that since the ice drifted so far, the path had disappeared.  So it was going to be another violent, ice-crunching, polar smack down on the way to Franz Josef Land, an archipelago of 191 islands, and part of Russian Arctic National Park.

On our way south from 90 degrees latitude
Our first stop was outside a military base surrounded by dense ice, where the Victory crew delivered seasonal provisions via helicopter.  This base is so remote, they count on icebreakers to bring them supplies.  It is regarded as the largest man-made structure in the Arctic Circle.

A time-lapse shot of the helicopter delivering supplies to the Russian base
We visited two islands: Alexandra and Flora, where we had our own opportunity to fly in the ship's helicopter, and to explore the shoreline via zodiac.  Magnificent glaciers dominate the landscape, but also present distinct hazards, when huge chunks of ice fall into the sea, creating dangerous waves.  These are called "calving" events.

Our path through Franz Josef Land
More coming soon . . .