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Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

End of the world: Intrepid Spaniard to cross the Drake Passage in a rowing boat
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 @ 10:02 PM

OVER 3,000 kilometres on a rowing boat, against 12-metre waves, hurricane-speed winds, and extreme temperatures, a journey of up to a month and a half to reach the coldest part of Planet Earth – a part which, in fact, is so chilly it has never had any native human inhabitants.

That's not something which would appeal to the masses – and, incidentally, has never been done before, by anyone, ever.

But by early 2022, someone is expecting to have done it and, in the process, committed his home nation to the history books.

Antonio de la Rosa will soon be swapping his birthplace of Íscar, Valladolid province, in Castilla y León – a northern-central region in Spain which regularly gets snow at sea-level and is no stranger to sub-zero daytime temperatures, even double figures below – for a watery and icy wilderness that will make the climate in the town he left feel like Death Valley in comparison.

Antonio in Lapland, ‘frozen’ in time. But temperatures in Santa Claus country will feel tropical compared with the Antarctic (photo from Antonio's website,

If he makes it, Antonio, 52, will be the first person in history ever to have crossed the Drake Passage – universally considered to be the world's most dangerous sea - from the southernmost tip of the Americas to the Antarctic, solo, and on a hand-powered craft.

And if he makes it and isn't put off rowing for life, next year he wants to sail by yacht from Elephant Island to South Georgia (in the South Shetland Islands), emulating Shackleton's famous feat, before crossing the island from west to east on foot with the aid of snow-shoes or cross-country skis.


White Christmas a certainty for Antonio this year

A keen explorer, experienced sailor, rower and boat-builder with a string of unlikely and terrifying adventures under his belt, Antonio has designed his own craft for what he calls 'the toughest challenge of his career'.

The Ocean Defender will take him on the voyage closest to impossible of all his extreme expeditions to date, but he will still need a 'Titanic mental effort' to complete it, he confesses.

Perhaps 'Titanic' is not the best choice of words in this case.

But icebergs are likely to be part of the scenery anyway over his 30- or 40-day trip, due to start this coming Thursday (December 9).

The Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica - thought to be the most dangerous sea stretch on earth (photo: Hurtigruten Expeditions Norway)

It means he will be one of the few Spaniards in 2021 to get a white Christmas.

Actually, this is not exactly rare, depending upon where you are in Spain. At altitudes of over 1,000 metres, especially far inland and in the north, snow is very probable in December – and, in fact, the higher up you are, very probable any time from about October to March. 

As Antonio is now living in the Sierra Norte mountain range in the Greater Madrid region, he may well have woken on Christmas morning before now and admired a winter wonderland scene straight off the cover of a Yuletide greeting card – but this year, it's practically guaranteed.


Surfing the circumference of the Arctic, skiing to Lapland...

He may not need our prayers and crossed fingers, though. 'Tough' as this 'challenge' feels to him, Antonio has successfully completed others that mere mortals, however fit and hardy, are unlikely to want to embark upon.



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