Esperanza Base, Antarctica

While we did not get a chance to visit this base, we did view it from our zodiacs. It is located in Hope Bay.

There are about 55 people on this base and its open year round. This is an Argentinian base which was quite evident given the high number of Argentinian flags.

We could see a cemetery up on the hill above the other buildings.

This base is family friendly and has a number of families. It has had births and is also home to a school.

Nearby are some enormous glaciers, including a point where two glaciers meet up, with a brown dirt line showing the place there they meet.

On the base is the site of a stone hut where 3 men spent a winter. A basic summation of the long story is that a group of 5 Swedish men and 1 Argentinian purposefully spent a winter on Snow Hill Island. One of the men was Otto Nordenskjöld, a famous explorer. An Argentine boat came to get them in the summer but the ice pack was too heavy.

They let out 3 people who would ski in to get the men because at that time they thought that the area where they left them off (where Esperanza Base if currently located) was attached to Snow Hill Island. They unfortunately were proved wrong. Soon after the 3 men discovered that they were on an island as they saw open water.

They returned to their drop off point to wait for the ship which was going to go around the very tip of the peninsula and Joinville Island to see if they could get through – they couldn’t… Their ship wrecked and they were all stuck on Paulet Island, right behind Joinville. So now everyone was stuck…

The 3 men who had been let out built a stone hut at their location and began killing and storing food for the upcoming winter. The main group of Argentines did the same as well. Meanwhile, the 6 men on Snow Hill Island realized something had probably happened and they would be stuck for another winter.

The next summer, Nordenskjöld and some men were out doing scientific research on another part of the peninsula when 3 men appeared in the distance. They first thought they were seals and considered killing them for food, they then realized that they were human! They of course had no clue who the 3 men were but the 3 men knew who Nordenskjöld was. The 3 men had skied over the ice to get to the group of 6. They all go back to base camp on Snow Hill Island.

Crazy enough, the a new group of Argentine officers are out looking for everyone and the come across the 6 men, plus the 3 men they had left off! They’ve come down and gotten through most of the ice, sending a few people on the ice to find the missing people.

Shortly after they arrive, 3 men arrive on a lifeboat from the group of Argentines that wrecked on Paulet Island. As a result, everyone is all discovered and rescued within the same small period of time! The ship when to pick up the rest of the crew who had shipwrecked, including a cat!

One of the unfortunate parts of my journey to where Esperanza Base was that I wasn’t told the story until after we had gone out on the zodiac, so I didn’t get a chance to photograph the hut. Also in case you couldn’t tell, it was snowing while we were out cruising.

 

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Notice the brown line. This is where two glaciers combine and head out to see.

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