My visits to the explorers’ huts, the Adélie penguin rookery, and certain other wildlife sites were part of an exhilarating day of barnstorming the shores and ice of McMurdo Sound by helicopter. I have already written about the various stops. Missing from my prior narratives, though, is a sense of the terrain we traversed between landings.

With our pilot Barry, just before starting our adventure du jour.

I wish that I could adequately convey to you a sense of the vast scale and stark beauty of the mountains, sea, and ice that passed beneath, above, and around us as we flew. Words, however, are wholly inadequate. Even photos disappoint.

Mountains and glaciers along the Antarctica mainland, across McMurdo Sound from Ross Island.

None of the hundreds of pictures I took comes even close to capturing the breathtaking enormity, thundering silence, kinetic emptiness, and 360° grandeur of the landscape. Nonetheless, I’d like to share a few of my favorite aerial scenes from that very special day.

A glacier tongue extending far into the Sound. At its tip, the ice rises more than 150 feet (46 m) above the water.

Icebergs in the sea ice in a cove south of Cape Evans.

An ice breaker and NSF research vessels at work in the sea ice.


Approaching the research vessels.


Overflying the ships.

The environs of Cape Evans, site of the Terra Nova Hut.

Approaching the iceberg off Cape Evans.

Ice near the edge of the Antarctica mainland.

Interesting ice formations.

Another large iceberg.


This channel through the sea ice, cleared by the ice breaker, leads from the Ross Sea to McMurdo Station, nestled at the base of Observation Hill, at left. As we flew home toward the Station we saw many dozens of whales and numerous Emperor penguins along the edge of the channel.

Together with the images in my prior posts, I hope that these photos give you some small sense of the glory of the Antarctic landscape.

Although this item is not likely to appear on my blog until I am already back in New Zealand, I’m still here on the Ice as I write this paragraph. I’m going to sign off now, take a long midnight hike up Observation Hill, and then turn to the sad task of packing my bags for tomorrow’s flight out.