Lonely Planet Writer

Vessel navigates to furthest point ever in Antarctica

A new adventure record was set this week by 48 enthusiastic international expeditioners who managed to steer a vessel to the furthest point ever in Antarctica.

A new record was set by 40 expeditionists who travelled further into Antarctica than ever before
A new record was set by 40 expeditioners who travelled further into Antarctica than ever before. Image by David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

Despite a forbidding chill factor, the Polar Class Expedition vessel, The Akademik Shokalskiy, negotiated its way to the Bay of Whales in the Eastern Ross sea (reaching 78°43.971’S).

The Heritage Expeditions’ ship surpassed the previous record from 12 months ago when the Arctic P reached 78° 43.0336’S.

Expedition leader Rodney Russ said exceeding that level was “nothing short of remarkable.”

He told newshub.co.nz that while the crew didn’t land at the Bay of Whales, they were able to take photographs of the historic environs before a fog descended.

This week’s record demonstrates the distance the Ross Ice Shelf has receded from the time it was initially documented in 1901 by UK explorer Robert Falcon Scott. In his calculations 115 years ago, the ice edge in the Bay of Whales was at 78° 36’S.

Roald Amundsen, the famous Norwegian explorer, built a base called Framheim a decade later on the shelf at 78° 38’S but that base has since disappeared.

This week the 48 trailblazer were celebrating their achievement on board their vessel together with the biologists, historians and two descendants of Sir James Clark Ross, who discovered 175 year ago the area now known as the Ross Sea.

Heritage Expeditions plans a similar expedition next year to Bay of Whales and Mr Russ said it would be interesting to find out if the ice edge had receded further by then.