S2 EP3 – Howard Whelan – Tales from three decades of polar expeditioning – Part 1

Howard Whelan is a polar expedition treasure having worked in the industry for three decades. But his story begins long before that and involves working in the dangerous environs of the fishing industry in Alaska as a teen, working at ski resorts and eventually becoming a journalist who moved to Australia and started up Australian Geographic. Not to mention he was part of the team that made the first Australian ascent of Mount Everest. And this was all before he ever set foot in Antarctica.

Howard later became part of the initial expedition team for Aurora Expeditions and was involved in introducing mountaineering as an activity for visitors to the peninsula. He has visited both the east and west sides of Antarctica extensively and was a critical part of the production of the award-winning film, Happy Feet.

On today’s episode, Part 1 of 2, we’ll get a front-row seat for Howard’s fascinating stories.

Commonwealth Bay polar plunge


Herald Island Bear Family


Howard and David Berg at Buchanan Halvøya


Howard at the summit of Mt Don Roberts overlooking Paradise Harbour


Iceberg sculpture


Howard on the North Face of Mt Everest


Applying fox traps on Wrangel Island 



2:25 Howard talks about his induction into the more cold, remote parts of our world starting with working on a fishing vessel in Alaska as a teen

7:30 Howard makes his first connection with Antarctica when he’s invited to design a brochure for an Antarctic expedition in the early 80’s

9:00 Next comes an invitation to be a part of the first Australian ascent of Mt Everest

9:35 Howard gets invited to spearhead Australian Geographic

10:40 Howard walks us through the experience of being on the team for the first Australian ascent of Mt Everest

13:40 The early days with Aurora Expeditions in Antarctica going into little-travelled territory, and the influx of ice-strengthened Russian vessels that made it possible

16:20 The effects of their early presence in Antarctica on governments establishing environmental guidelines

18:10 The millennium New Year in Antarctica

21:35 Some of Howard’s unforgettable Antarctic moments

28:35 Some of the moments he’d rather not relive

36:40 A tale or two from the cold north that may involve some polar bears



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