The True Magic of the Ice

Words by: Sarah Giles

Photo by: Rolf Gelpke

two zodiacs in antarctica icebergs

My opportunity to go to Antarctica came up very suddenly and left me with almost no time to imagine what I would see, hear, and experience. Having worked in Canada’s Arctic region for many years, I was excited to see the differences and similarities between the two regions. But mostly I was intrigued by the opportunity to see the birds and animals — penguins and seals and whales, oh my!

Ice tells us stories that are beyond human memory.

But here’s the thing — while the penguins, seals, whales, and birds were amazing — nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the ice. It left me spellbound. Great hulking icebergs that were thousands of years old, the size of which I couldn’t truly grasp, passed on our port and starboard sides. While out on the zodiacs, we saw ice that had different textures and reflected different colours. 

Ice tells us stories that are beyond human memory. The stories trapped in ice are slowly disappearing. It feels as though unspoken history is slipping through our fingers as we continue to watch the Earth’s temperature rise.

It took a visit to Antarctica for me to really grasp how humans are changing the Earth in an irreparable manner. The trip to Antarctica scared the hell out of me and launched serious changes in my life. As we wreck the planet, do we deserve such awe-inspiring beauty?

Part of me wants everyone on the planet to see Antarctica. Another part of me wants to seal it off from humans for eternity. Though the trip to Antarctica was a spur of the moment opportunity, it’s one that’s left an indelible print on my mind and changed my behavior. The true magic of the ice stays with me everywhere I go.

Letters From the Ends of the Earth is an online multimedia platform that brings the polar regions to you - through real stories, stunning photography, inspiring artwork, and informative resources. From Antarctica to the Arctic, Svalbard to South Georgia, this project shines a new and different kind of light on the unique experiences found at the Ends of the Earth.

Have You Spent Time in Antarctica or the Arctic?


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