Lying to the less-visited east of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea spends much of the year completely frozen over with sea ice. Even in the summer months, the passage of ships is often restricted by the ice-choked waters. It was here in January 1915 that Shackleton’s ship the Endurance became trapped in the ice, forcing the crew to abandon ship. The men escaped to uninhabited Elephant Island before some of them rowed a small boat to South Georgia to get help. One year and seven months after their ship had become trapped, every one of Shackleton’s men were saved. The Endurance was eventually crushed by the icy jaws which it held it so fast.
Today, it is the icy beauty and remoteness of the Weddell Sea which draws visitors to its inhospitable waters. Soaring cliffs of ice take on a bluish hue in sunlight, their flat tops hinting at the vastness of the white continent which lies behind. As sections break off, huge tabular icebergs are born; the Weddell Sea is veritable iceberg ‘factory’ creating ever-changing scenery of jaw-dropping beauty. These gargantuan behemoths glide slowly and silently through the water for years, gradually melting down to a tiny piece of ice before completely becoming part of the ocean that transported them for so long.