11 o’clock sunset over the Antarctic Peninsula.
Everyone knows that traveling in the mountains is a dangerous activity, add in glaciers and the absolute remoteness of Antarctica, and even the smallest accident can turn into a life threatening scenario. So before I go any further, I must give a huge shout out to the IceAxe Expeditions guide staff for how they handled yesterday’s events.
Unfortunately, while many people were out having the time of their lives and experiencing bliss in one of the most beautiful places in the world, one of the clients was in a very serious situation. While ascending a steep slope on skis and unroped, a client fell into a deep crevasse and broke his leg. The chatter on the radios immediately started the rescue operations and within a couple hours, the patient was extricated, packaged and had been transported 1000′ down a very steep slope and back to the Clipper Adventure to an awaiting doctor for assessment.
Penguins in front of the Clipper Adventurer. Photo Kellie Okonek.
It was determined that his injuries were serious enough to warrant an immediate evacuation, and since it is impossible for any type of helicopter to reach our location, it was imperative the patient to be brought to the closest landing strip at King George Island, about an 18 hour journey by boat. When we arrived, a plane was waiting to transport the patient to South America and further on to the United States. So, from the time the accident happened, and within 48 hours, the injured party would be in the hands of professional care in the hospital of his choice. Pretty impressive considering we are down here at the bottom of the world.
Obviously, our original itinerary is now thrown out the window and it would be easy to be upset at the whole situation. BUT, at times like this, one must take a deep breathe, put themselves in the patient’s shoes and realize that really…it could have been anyone of us at the bottom of that crevasse. And honestly, the IceAxe crew, pros to say the least, couldn’t have handled it any better and I’m sure we will still have some amazing skiing over the next few days.