Saturday, 26 November 2011

Tourists' iceberg dilemma

An iceberg the size of the ACT is
blocking access to Mawson's Hut.
by Craig Hoggett | The Mercury

TOURISTS forking out top dollar to visit Mawson's Hut for centenary celebrations this summer are likely to face disappointment as the "Antarctic factor" heaves an enormous icy obstacle in ships' paths.

Expedition cruise ship MV Orion is due to start its 19-night Southern Ocean voyage on Thursday, with prices for the 100 passengers starting at $19,365 a person.

Orion expedition leader Don McIntyre said the Antarctic always had challenges but an iceberg the size of the ACT blocking access was "unique".

"Whilst it's not looking good, no one will know until we get there," Mr McIntyre said.

"We always maintain a simple philosophy we work with the Antarctic factor. You cannot dictate terms with Antarctica, it lets you in at its pleasure you have to work with it, you can't fight it."

A 2500 sq km tabular iceberg was part of a much larger ice mass that broke free from the Ross Ice Shelf in 1987 but subsequently broke up as it drifted westwards.

Parts of the "B9B" iceberg have grounded on the approach to the Mawson's Hut site at Commonwealth Bay.

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