Why does the Antarctic matter to all of us? Join Shackleton for Antarctica NOW, a seven-day online festival featuring leading experts on all things Antarctica: wildlife, conservation, exploration, climate change and politics.
Antarctica NOW is a seven-day online festival celebrating the extraordinary continent that has captured restless imaginations for centuries. Normally, January would be a time when thousands of people head to the Antarctic, whether for work or exploration, but COVID-19 has inevitably impacted on that. As borders close and lockdowns intensify, we invite you to come with us on a virtual journey. Through dynamic presentations and discussions, provocative writing and pioneering photography, this is a chance to explore the unique wonder and vital significance of Antarctica today.
Over a century ago, when our namesake Ernest Shackleton led three expeditions to Antarctica, exploration was about discovering new lands and breaking records. Today’s explorations in the seventh continent are more focused on fields of science, climate and conservation, all of which are playing a pivotal role in our understanding of the planet. This is why Shackleton has decided to host Antarctica NOW, to spread awareness of what’s happening in the coldest place on earth right now - and why it’s crucially important to every single one of us.
LIVE TALKS & SPEAKER LINE-UP // The live talks will be 45 minutes each and hosted on Zoom, starting at 6pm (GMT), with a double-header on Sunday 31st starting at 5pm (GMT). We recommend downloading Zoom in advance if you haven’t already, although you can also join straight from your browser. All talks are free. Fill in the form at the bottom of the page to receive the Zoom links direct to your inbox each day.
MARTIN BROOKS, SHACKLETON CO-FOUNDER // “Antarctica is our spiritual home - it’s where Sir Ernest Shackleton made his name as a polar explorer over a century ago and where our expedition-grade apparel is tested and used today. Like me, anyone who’s seen Antarctica first-hand feels compelled to protect it. The aim of the festival is to raise awareness of the critical issues surrounding Antarctica, and how these impact all of us across the globe. As Shackleton said himself: ‘It's in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all.’ We invite everyone to explore what makes Antarctica both critical and wonderfully compelling.”
Upon arriving in Oslo, you will board the Oslo-to-Bergen snow train, famed as one of the most scenic rail journeys in Europe*. You will disembark at Finse, the highest point on the line (1222m). The iconic Finse hotel is located on the platform and can only be reached by train or snowmobile/ski – there is no road access, even in the summer months. You will be met by the Shackleton Expedition Team and shown to your rooms, followed by a three-course dinner and drinks.
After dinner there will be a fireside welcome brief outlining the plan for the week, weather update and you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions.
*If you would like to discuss other transport options, speak to a member of the Shackleton team.
Following breakfast at 8am, you will collect specialist polar expedition skis, boots and poles. You’ll spend the remainder of the morning preparing your expedition gear. With the pulks loaded we will board the snow train to Ustaoset to begin our journey.
You will be hauling your own pulk containing everything you need to thrive and survive in a polar environment. You will take turns to lead and navigate as we depart Ustaoset and head for the mountains in the distance. After a day of challenging skiing we will select a camp site and pitch our expedition tents in the snow. Cookers will be used to melt the snow to prepare our food and hot drinks. After a well-deserved hot meal it will be time to bed down for a good night’s rest.
Breakfast will be prepared at sunrise and, once ready, camp will be collapsed as we prepare for our second full day on the move. We will tackle challenging undulating terrain while hauling our pulks through the Hardangervidda National Park. Throughout the day you will be responsible for navigating and keeping the team together under the guidance of the Shackleton leaders. The route will take us past Haugastol and then south west into the mountains, far from any signs of civilisation.
The day will be peppered with steep climbs and challenging descents as we work our way southwest via a network of frozen lakes and valleys. We will have an eye on the mighty Hardangerjokulen Glacier in the distance as we inch our way ever closer. We will aim to push hard and cover some good mileage, finishing the day in close proximity to our goal.
On our penultimate day (conditions allowing), we ascend onto the legendary Hardangerjokulen Glacier. We start the day with a steep climb up to an altitude of 1800m above sea level, but then we will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding area. Once on the plateau of the glacier you will see the similarities with Antarctica – it is the reason Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton chose to train in this area as part of their preparations for their historic journeys. We will explore the plateau area and camp on the northern side.
We’ll start the day with a challenging steep descent off the glacier. We then aim for the vast frozen lake, Finsevatnet, with the hotel coming into view on the far side.
After a shower, you and the team with enjoy a celebratory dinner – a great way to round off the experience.
After a leisurely breakfast you will board the snow train for Oslo.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Temperatures ranging from -5ºC to -20ºC. Weather can vary greatly, from bright sunshine and stunning views to gale-force winds and zero visibility. Windchill can drive the temperature down to -25ºC.
- Challenging undulating mountainous terrain with steep climbs and tricky descents.
- Snow conditions can vary from hard pack to deep soft snow that will hamper progress. Some open water leads may be visible .
- We plan to ski for up to 10 hours a day looking to cover 15-20km depending on conditions.