From South Georgia Website
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(Revised October 2012)
Route from landing site at Fortuna
Route from landing site at Fortuna Bay
Route from landing site at Fortuna Bay
(Sketch Map. Not for navigation purposes). Download large size jpg of map here
- Latitude: 54°08.85`S
- Longitude: 36°47.11`W
- Latitude: 54°09.4`S
- Longitude: 36°42.6`W
5.5km hike across a 300 metre mountain pass between Fortuna Bay and Stromness Harbour.
- The southern section of the western shore of Fortuna Bay is marked by a series of prominent scree ridges comprising sedimentary sandstone and shale. The two most conspicuous ridges lead up towards ‘Crean Lake’. The pass lies at approximately 300m altitude. Conspicuous folding in the rocks, typical of the Cumberland Formation, is visible in the cliffs at the head of Shackleton Valley and at the east entrance of Stromness Bay. Shackleton Valley is dominated by a braided gravel river bed.
- Confirmed breeders: Fortuna Bay side - light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata), southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), South Georgia diving petrel (Pelecanoides georgicus), kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), brown skua (Catharacta lonnbergi), elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) and fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella).
- Stromness Bay side - gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata), South Georgia diving petrel (Pelecanoidesgeorgicus), kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), brown skua (Catharacta lonnbergi), Antarctic tern (Sterna vittate georgiae), elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) and fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella).
- Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)
- Vegetation cover between Fortuna Bay and Stromness Harbour extends from sea level to approximately 100 – 150 metre altitude.
- Fortuna Bay slopes – lower slopes predominantly tussac, merging into Festuca grassland with scattered mossy seepage gullies. Moss patches on lower scree slopes and at stream edges.
- Shackleton Valley – inland fellfield communities merge with Festuca grassland, with bog and mire communities on the lower slopes. In the area of rolling hills behind Stromness whaling station Festuca grassland, short mixed grassland and bog and mire communities are mixed with moss communities and areas of reindeer-grazed tussac.
- Last section of the route Shackleton, Crean and Worsley took across South Georgia. 1914.
- Track starting to form on some scree sections; divots on bog and mire slope adjacent to Shackleton waterfall.
- Disturbance of wildlife, particularly diving petrel burrows and trampling of vegetation.
- Ships carrying 500 or fewer passengers. One ship at a time.
- Maximum 2 ships per day (midnight to midnight) of which no more than 1 vessel carrying more than 200 passengers.
∗ A ship is defined as a vessel which carries more than 12 passengers.
- Walking groups of no more than 100 visitors exclusive of expedition guides and leaders. 1 experienced guide per 15 visitors. If the number of walkers exceeds 100 then they should be divided into distinct groups of no more than 100 passengers, maintaining a minimum ratio of 1 guide to 15 visitors with each group. In addition to the aforementioned guides, the hike should be led from the front by two expedition staff members with a good knowledge of the route using the waypoints provided. Both should be equipped with hand held GPS with which to follow the correct waypoints (EL's should check these in advance with the Government Officers at King Edward Point.) Guides in the middle and rear of the column of walkers should also have a knowledge of the walk and be equipped with similar GPS units and be competent in their use. At least one guide should have appropriate expedition medical and field skills.
- Fortuna Bay: gravel beach area to the south of Hodson Point.
- Stromness: beach area between the ships’ propellers (200m from station) and mouth of the Shackleton Valley river.
- Closed Area A: burrowing petrel sites on scree slopes above Fortuna Bay and adjacent to Shackleton waterfall.
- Closed Area B: the area of small rolling hills behind station comprising moss beds and bog and mire communities.
- Closed Area C: staked area surrounding Stromness whaling station, incorporating the station and any jetties to a boundary of 200m including to the seaward side.
- Closed Area D: bog and mire slope adjacent to south side of Shackleton waterfall, containing numerous locally rare ferns.
- It is important that the specified route and waypoints provided are followed. This avoids the creation of multiple tracks, potential disturbance of wildlife and damage to sensitive vegetation communities.
- The immediate landing beaches at Fortuna Bay and Stromness Harbour, the braided river bed area in Shackleton Valley and the level area behind the whaling station between the staked area and the rolling hills.
Visitor Code of Conduct
- Walk slowly and carefully. Maintain a precautionary distance of from wildlife and give animals the right-of-way. Increase your distance if any change in behaviour is observed.
- Be alert to fur seals.
- Know the location of the diving petrel burrow areas and avoid them.
- Be alert to the presence of Antarctic terns in Shackleton Valley.
- Avoid walking on areas of lichen and moss and on the bog and mire slope adjacent to the Shackleton waterfall.
- Avoid the gentoo penguin access routes between the colony and the beach at Stromness.
- Be aware of giant petrel nests on the slopes above the landing beach in Fortuna Bay, keeping a minimum distance of 10 metres.
- This is a strenuous walk in potentially treacherous wilderness conditions, remote from any outside assistance. This walk should only be undertaken in calm, settled weather conditions with appropriate medical and safety procedures in place to enable self sufficiency in the case of an emergency.
- Be aware that the descent from the pass down into Shackleton Valley is particularly steep. Small slab avalanches can occur in this vicinity under certain conditions.
- All landings must comply with GSGSSI biosecurity measures and self-audit checks must be carried out prior to landing.
Beach – Fortuna Bay
Route up through tussac slope (See photo)
Comment: Use short, steep gully with water seepage in it. This avoids the extensive moss banks in alternative gullies and the area of breeding southern giant petrels nesting on the Festuca grassland slopes above the beach.
Start of Festuca grassland area and route up first ridge.
Comment: Use the ridge to gain elevation. Keep to the upper slopes of the ridge to avoid more sensitive vegetation on the lower slopes. Be alert to roosting or nesting skuas and nesting giant petrels.
Leave first ridge and make way E towards stream crossing
Comment: Leave the upper slopes of the ridge where lower slope vegetation finishes and bare scree commences, heading E down slope towards the stream at the base of the gully
Stream crossing point
Comment: Cross the stream at a rocky area. Avoid moss patches.
Diagonal route up second ridge towards ‘Crean Lake’
Comment: Take a long gentle route heading up towards the crest of the second ridge crossing a series of vegetated rock seepages.
Take care to skirt to the south of the rocky knoll to avoid straying into the diving petrel burrows area located at 54°09.116’S 036°46.496`W.
Comment: At the crest of the second ridge follow the waypoints heading eastwards towards ‘Crean Lake’
‘Crean Lake’ Overview
Comment: Be aware ‘Crean Lake’ surface is usually frozen in winter.
Route skirting northwest edge of ‘Crean Lake’ towards pass
Comment: Leave ‘Crean Lake’ and skirt around its northwest shore, climbing gravel/shale ridge to an outcrop/low bluff overlooking the lake.
Comment: From the outcrop / low bluff continue uphill towards the pass.
Comment: Two small tarns are located at the western section of the pass.
Comment: The highest point of the pass is approximately 300m asl. From the highest point follow the gentle downhill slope in an east-northeast direction towards the Stromness Bay viewpoint.
Stromness Bay & whaling station viewpoint
Comment: Two rocky knolls mark the first viewpoint of Shackleton Valley and Stromness whaling station.
Descent from viewpoint down to Shackleton Valley
Comment: From the rocky knolls, head north, skirting the knoll to commence the steep descent on scree. Great care is required in the descent
If slope has snow, please be aware snow small slab avalanches are possible.
The route initially follows the gorge leading to the Shackleton waterfall in a northerly direction.
Comment:After descending c. 50m, turn northeast towards a conspicuous rocky outcrop that appears on the skyline with Shackleton Valley and Stromness Harbour below.
Comment: Take care to keep to the south side of this outcrop to avoid straying into the diving petrel burrows area located at 54°09.009’S 036°44.608`W.
Comment: Head in the direction of the whaling station and after descending another c. 100m, cross a scree gulley to join a curved Festuca covered ridge that descends to the foot of the waterfall.
Follow this ridge to the valley floor and then walk over to view Shackleton waterfall.
Base of Shackleton waterfall
Comment: When viewing the waterfall, remain on the valley floor and keep off the bog and mire slope adjacent to the waterfall. It hosts a locally rare fern that is easily damaged by trampling.
Shackleton Valley down to the beach
Follow the braided gravel stream bed down to the Stromness beach area. Please stay on the gravel bed as this avoids the bog and mire communities on the lower slopes on the south side of Shackleton Valley, the moss communities around the small lakes and the moss easily trampled plant communities situated in the hills behind the station. On the beach, avoid intersecting gentoo penguin colony access routes.
Crean Tarn is often still frozen in early spring
Route down from Stromness viewpoint
Descent down into Shackleton Valley