Climbing Past Penguin Heaven
Today's adventures along the Antarctic Peninsula took place at Cuverville and Danco Islands along the Errera Channel. Our climb to the summit at Cuverville was steep, windy, cold, but exhilarating. Screaming alerts from distraught penguins could be heard as skuas flew in to attempt to steal their eggs in this rookery. While most penguins were cuddling for warmth, one stood out. With flippers extended backwards to brace against the winds, it waddled over the icy and rocky terrain. At times the movements simulated a ballet dancer performing a pirouette.
Gentoo penguin above the rookery at Cuverville Island, Antarctica
One of my favorite photos and memories was at Danco Island. Our climb to the summit was about a one thousand-foot elevation, steep and through variable snow and ice conditions. After sinking knee-deep into a snow pit, before stepping out, I glanced upwards. Sunlight was glaring off the snow surrounding the front of a Gentoo penguin colony. From my angle, puffy white clouds in a beautifully blue sky seemed to complete a circle around the penguins who were quietly enjoying the day. I could think of no more apt description other than to call it "Penguin Heaven". A sunny, serene, spectacular solitude was my reward after reaching the summit, where glaciers were scattered all along the panoramic horizon. Clearly, one of our better days on the Antarctica Expedition.