Where in the World is Connie? travel blog

Scenery at Point Wild

Tall sharp rocks in bay

Chinstrap penguin colony

Chinstrap penguins

Monument honoring Chilean captain who rescued Shackelton's marooned men

Explorer in front of Point Wild glacier

The South Shetlands are a chain of islands in the Southern Ocean around 120 kilometers north of Antarctica. 80-90% of the islands' lands are permanently glaciated. Elephant Island, one of the main islands, is an ice-covered mountainous island in the outer reaches of the South Shetlands. It supports no significant flora or natural fauna although migratory penguins and seals are found here. A lack of safe anchorage has prevented any permanent human settlements from being formed.

On 15 April 1916, Shackleton and his men arrived on Elephant Island after traveling in 3 small lifeboats for 7 days. He left his second in command in charge of 21 men on Elephant Island for more than 4 months while he sailed to South Georgia and led attempts to return with a rescue ship. Because the island has no natural source of shelter, the stranded men constructed a shelter from the two remaining lifeboats and scraps of canvas. They lived at Point Wild on Elephant Island, the most inhospitable of places, through severe weather conditions, eating penguins and seals to stay alive, for 126 days until Shackelton miraculously returned to rescue them.

28 Dec 2005

Point Wild

Arrived at Elephant Island mid afternoon, yesterday's detours around some thick patches of ice causing a delay in our arrival. We went on a zodiac cruise around Point Wild, very aptly named. I had initially wondered why we weren't doing a shore landing, but one look at the sheer rocks, glaciers that run into the sea, and otherwise very unwelcoming shoreline quickly answered that question. There's a monument on shore honoring the captain of the Chilean ship who finally succeeded in rescuing Shackleton's men; all other evidence of their time here has long since disappeared. There's a large colony of Chinstrap penguins at the top of a sheer cliff. What a place to call home, how do they even get up there? Looking around this cold barren windswept place, one can only wonder how 22 men could've possibly survived here for 126 days. Back on the ship, I dug out another layer of clothing, as we're now under way for our final destination ... Antarctica.

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