To delve deep into the arctic or antarctic regions, you’ve got to have an icebreaker. Icebreakers are big, burly boats with a few adaptations to, well, break the ice that lies in front of them: a reinforced hull, a more pointed shape that’ll break and move the ice out of the way efficiently, and enough power to crush thick ice sheets.

Expeditions on icebreakers are usually pretty slow going; it’s not delicate work, but it is tedious, trudging forward, backing up, busting through a landscape of frozen ice floats and not much else. But it turns out that if you speed things up–like, a lot–it’s startlingly beautiful. This video from scientist and writer Cassandra Brooks, who’s on a long icebreaker journey and posting about it over at National Geographic, compresses a two-month journey into a mere five-minute video. Stick around until the end–there are some friendly faces!

National Geographic