While Antarctica has long been an imposing challenge to adventurers and explorers, the Antarctic Peninsula reaches out towards the tip of South America, inviting those who want a glimpse of the frozen continent. Along the western side of the peninsula, between Cape Sterneck and Cape Renard, sits the Danco Coast.
Bordered by the Aguirre Passage, which separates it from Lemaire Island, this region of Antarctica was first explored in detail in early 1898 by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition led by Adrien de Gerlache. (The coast was named after Lieutenant Emile Danco, who died on the expedition.) Sailing aboard a Norwegian-built whaling ship with a multinational crew, de Gerlache charted and named several Antarctic islands during 20 separate landings. In February 1898, the expedition crossed the Antarctic Circle. Soon after, the ship became trapped in the ice and the men realized that they would be forced to spend the winter on Antarctica. After seven difficult months trying to free their ship, they managed to start slowly down a channel they had cleared. It took them nearly a month to cover 11 kilometers (seven miles), and on March 14 they sailed into the sea, free of ice. The expedition eventually reached Antwerp on November 5, 1899, more than two years after they had departed from the same port.