S2 EP4 – Howard Whelan – Tales from three decades of polar expeditioning – Part 2

We are joined once again by expeditioner Howard Whelan for Part 2 of his life story from the polar regions. In this episode, we continue Howard’s winding polar journey, including his involvement in the award-winning film Happy Feet, using laser scanners from a “bubble helicopter” to map grounded icebergs and sea ice.

We also discuss the challenges of organizing single-day climbs on the Antarctic Peninsula, and Howard remembers climbing a new route on Mount Demaria which sits across the Penola Strait from Vernadsky Station.

Howard also reflects on changes in the tourism industry. Notably, the increase in the number of vessels and the coordination provided by IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators), and how experiences can vary greatly depending on the flexibility and timing of the operation. Finally, we take a moment to appreciate that sometimes the truest of connections to Antarctica can be experienced in the simplest of moments.


Tenting up on the Shackleton Crossing in South Georgia


Scanning pressure ridges near Erebus glacier tongue for Happy Feet production


Emperor penguins at Auster Rookery


Howard + Oscar and George Miller


Katabatic off Amery ice shelf – East Antarctica


Ben Maddison and Howard scavenging in Gold Harbour, South Georgia


Howard and his daughter Skye Marr-Whelan in Scotland



1:30  Being on the leading edge of tourism-based mountaineering excursions on the Peninsula

3:42  Observations of changes in the glacial landscape of South Georgia

7:45  Howard becomes involved in the production of the award-winning film, Happy Feet

12:25  Months spent collecting data to create the animated world of Happy Feet

15:30  Howard’s mentorship by successful businessmen and adventurer Dick Smith

17:37  Reflections on the tourism industry then and now

22:00  The challenge for today’s expedition leaders

25:04  A lesson learned about celebrating true connection with Antarctica



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