Eighteen CC alumni, spouses, and family members participated in a journey to Antarctica led by CC Geology Professor Christine Siddoway, who has been conducting geological research in Antarctica for more than 20 years. The CC contingent met in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and on December 31 boarded the Corinthian II, which served as their home, lecture hall, dining facility, and expedition staging area for the next 12 days. Coincidentally, also on board the Corinthian II was a group from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, led by Museum Director Sam Taylor ’73.
The trip, says Amy Louis ’84, epitomized CC’s “unique intellectual adventure.” The uniqueness was apparent in the travelers’ desire not only to embark upon a journey to this remote destination, but also to learn about Antarctica’s place in the Earth’s system. The intellectual component came from shipboard lectures presented by Siddoway, who introduced such topics as “The Hidden Deeps of Drake Passage: A Gem of Geology and Plate Tectonics” on the southbound passage; “Fire and Ice in Antarctica: Active Volcanoes of Antarctica”; “Ice Sheet and Ocean Linkages: Antarctica’s Place in the Global Climate System” co-presented with Taylor while in the Lemaire Channel (a strait between the mainland’s Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island); and “Greenhouse Antarctica” while northbound across Drake Passage.
And adventure was everywhere. The group observed penguins, climbed volcanic summits, slid down ice chutes, plunged into polar water, and tested the water of thermal pools. They went ashore at Vernadsky Station (Ukraine), the southernmost point of the journey, where meteorological and hydrographical research is conducted, and ventured to Wordie Hut, named after a member of Shackleton’s expedition. In astonishing sunshine, they had a deck-side barbecue.
“This last, vast wilderness of our planet truly brings out the best in humankind – we want to explore it and we want to learn from it,” said Ann Pfeiffenberger O’Neill ’83.
“None of us thinks we will ever take another Antarctic cruise,” says Kim Skilling ’79, part of three generations of Skillings on the trip. “The trip was so perfect we fear that any other trip would be doomed to disappoint.”
If you are interested in joining a future alumni trip to Antarctica, please contact Geology@ColoradoCollege.edu.