Look closely. Can you see the orange parkas against the Windex-blue glacier? They’d be easy to miss, the 10 or so Seabourn Quest guests in the Zodiac, exploring a massive glacier on one day of our voyage to Antarctica. I remember the day well. A group of us were on another Zodiac, far enough away for me to snap this photo with a zoom lens. We were all mesmerized by the magnitude of the place, a vast emptiness, except for mountains of rock, ice and snow all around us.
Seabourn Quest was anchored nearby, and it appeared like a speck on the water that I will share later this week. Antarctica surely humbles those who visit. First, there is the sheer amount of ice. Nearly all of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages more than one mile in thickness. There are hundreds of glaciers, such as the one we admired for close to an hour in the Lemaire Channel. I realized as we cruised along side the glacier that the glacial face is a thing of rare beauty, with its elongated, deep cracks. Calving will occur at some point when huge chunks of the glacial face break off and plunge into the water. The calving sounds like the firing of a rifle. The next sound you hear is quiet, followed by rippling water caused by the chunk of ice displacing the water.
Antarctica can be remarkably quiet. One of our Zodiac drivers said to us on an outing, “One of my favorite moments in Antarctica.” He shut off the engine. None of us said a word for what seemed like five minutes. We listened to the vast stillness. Few of us had ever heard anything like it.