Real skins, real time, and a retro look at Antarctica

Our Antarctic training, a broad mix of everything from environmental updates and standards, to refreshing our GPS skills as we navigated the streets of Punta Arenas, were interspersed with the opening of “the box.”

Suddenly it was Christmas, a room of Antarctic Guides dipping into the gear from the past. Not only was it old, it was cool in an old fashioned, new world sort of way.


Darren samples the darkness. A category 4+ sunglass with the leather wrap-around head set. Tested to minus 40.

From sunglasses to ski-skins, watches to sextants, the magic box held a cornucopia of Antarctic treasures.

Nelson who works in the office here in Punta Arenas at ALE, and also summited Vinson, is an avid collector of historic maps and memorabilia from Antarctica, and pulled out a few favorites to share with us from his collection.

We all know skins are called skins because they were originally made from seal skins – but actually seeing a pair? These almost looked like they could be useable.


Ski skins, the real thing.

Of course their weren’t a lot of Oakley’s around and ski goggles not invented, but with a bit of leather or a string you could get something over your eyes. Optically dubious, but they were certainly dark as we discovered.

The lighter pair sported a metal mesh around the edges – sure to make a comeback soon when a designer or two sees the opportunity here. Perhaps not the most practical but certainly good for strolling the ski resorts in Europe.

Dark shades and leather or micro-metal side shields with a clear eyed view.

Early navigation and time were extricably linked before we had our always on GPS trackers, so carrying a good pocket watch was essential. If a family heirloom, so much the better as it had emotional value as well.

An ideal companion for the navigator – though this model with ‘Glow-Worm’ dots added probably more suitable for darker explorations, unless you planned on wintering over in Antarctica