Antarctica…HELLS YEAH!!!

Antartica MapIf you told me a year ago that I’d be preparing to go to ski in Antarctica in just over a month from now…I would have said…“bullshit”. But low and behold, the stars have come into alignment and I will be joining the IceAxe.TV crew on their Antarctic Ski Cruise which sets sail from Ushuaia, SA on Nov 5th. There’s still some room for others to sign up on the trip, but time is running out logistically, so act fast if you have been on the fence about it, but want to pull the trigger.

ushuaia
Ushuaia, South America.

drake-passageI’m really excited for this trip, not only for the skiing, but for the whole Antarctic experience, as well meeting new people and skiing with others like John Griber, Andrew McLean, Doug Workman, Kip Garre and many other notables from around the world. The trip starts off in the town of Ushuaia and hopefully I will be able to get a day or two skiing in the mountains outside of town before we depart.

It takes two days to cross the Drake Passage, known for some of the nastiest weather and ocean travel in the world. I’m not really that psyched about this part, living in land locked Wyoming and all, and I’ve already got a prescription lined up for some anti-nausea meds. I’ve turned green on ships in the past.

The first stop is for a quick stretch of the legs on Deception Island on the afternoon of the second day making the crossing. Due to its shape, it is noted deceptionislandas one of the safest harbors in Antarctica even though it is still an active volcano. Deception Island is the island that Earnest Shackelton was trying to reach after his ship got crushed in the Antarctic ice-pack in 1916.

mountains-in-neko-harbor
Neko Harbor.

Our first day of skiing is in Neko Harbor. From what I can tell, it’s heavily glaciated and should be a good way to quickly sharpen up on glacier travel techniques. The terrain to start off, doesn’t seem too gnarly, but it’s more about the whole experience and cruising on the fat skis over the great expanse of the ocean.

sierra-dufief-wiencke-islands
Sierra Dufief on Wiencke Islands.

anvers-islandThe next day visit and ski on Anvers and Wiencke Islands. The terrain kicks up big time on these islands and should really be exciting to explore for skiing potential. The Sierra Dufief is the main attraction with its steep faces and exposed ridge lines.

Anvers Island also looks to have some pretty good skiing potential. It is home to the Palmer Research Station, one of three US research facilities located on Antarctica. I think the ship stops at the station, so it might be interesting to see what these guys are up to way down here at the bottom of the earth.

ronge-island-far-and-awy-photographic-arts
Ronge Island.

Our next stop is Ronge Island and what appears to be an expanse of fun, playful terrain for skiing. Looks rad doesn’t it?! I can only imagine standing on top the mountain in this photo and looking out at the other peaks and the water. Whoa!

paradise-bay
Paradise Bay.

Paradise Bay will continue to offer steep skiing potential the following day. We will be traveling by inflatable zodiac from the ship to access the coastline each day. I’ve heard that one of the tricky things about landing the zodiacs is finding a place that isn’t blocked by a giant wall of ice, so you can actually step off the boat, instead of having to lead grade V ice in order to go skiing.

lemaire-channel
Lemaire Channel.

Amazing channels and mountains welcome us as we travel to ski the Lemaire Channel for our second to last day of skiing. Some bigger peaks like Mount Scott, Mount Demaria and Mount Mill all offer great ski descents in an amazing location.

crystal-soundOur last day consist of skiing on the peaks in and around Crystal Sound. By the looks of it…there is endless skiing potential there. In the evening, we will begin our travels back towards South America and past the cliffs of Cape Horn.

Obviously, like on most mountain adventures, weather will play a huge factor in how this trip plays out. Either way, I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and having an amazing journey.  Ciao…for now!

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21 Comments

21 Responses to “Antarctica…HELLS YEAH!!!”


  1. 1 nic Sep 24th, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Hey Steve,
    Congrats. It’s great to see your passion for skiing being rewarded in this way. Have fun down there.

  2. 2 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Thanks Nic!

    I’m SO looking forward to the trip and am now trying to decide what skis, pack, and clothing layers would be best for skiing on the white continent. I’m also trying to decide if I should attempt to maintain TetonAT.com with updated posts from the trip via satellite phone while I’m down there. Needless to say…it’s not cheap to rent and use sat phones for transmitting data.

  3. 3 Andrew Sep 24th, 2009 at 8:44 am

    See if you can work out a deal with the Sat Phone company (Remote Satellite Systems is good)to call into a local radio station with weekly (or daily) updates in exchange for free or discounted phone use. I’ve done that in the past and it works out well for all involved. “Hello, this is RandoSteve calling on my Global Star phone from the middle of the Drake Passage.”

    Or, you could just shell out the $’s and get on with life. ;)

  4. 4 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Dude…you are the man…buy you a beer on the ship!

    Fishman…watch out! I have you in my sights!!!

  5. 5 Jonny Sep 24th, 2009 at 9:30 am

    J-E-A-L-O-U-S

  6. 6 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 9:57 am

    The coolest thing Jonny, is that anyone can get themselves on this trip with a limited amount of planning and logistics.

  7. 7 Peter Kocubinski Sep 24th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Steve,

    this looks to be an amazing trip. question on the safety aspect…what are you guys thinking about in terms of avy risk? does it make things more difficult to assess an area you (and others) haven’t really skied before. Does anyone follow the weather closely enough to know what to expect for stability? I am a novice in avy terrain, i find it very interesting to think through what the snowpack will be like down there. I’m guessing the snowpack is thick and old in a majority of places, so gradients shouldn’t be much of a problem. How quickly does snow fall there? A couple inches a year or do they get dumps? Is it possible that you guys will get a dump while you are there? Any window you can give into thought process in preparing for such an new area would be fascinating to me.

    thanks,
    Pete

  8. 8 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I think the avy risk will be manageable, though we will most likely see a variety of snow conditions, ranging from powder, to windboard, to corn, to slush, when skiing from the peaks to the ocean. It will be a maritime snowpack, so the snow sticks to the steepest of faces…making the potential for skiing them…promising. I know the wind can really kick down there, so my guess is that there will mostly be some dangerous areas after a weather event…like in any mountain environment. The good thing is that there are several people on the trip who have been to the Antarctic Peninsula before…so it’s not a total mystery…which makes things a bit more reassuring.

  9. 9 Jason Sep 24th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Stoked Man! I can’t wait to see posts from you trip. I’ve dreamed of skiing down there for years.

  10. 10 Tab Sep 24th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Hey Steve, I’ve got a buddy (Will Brubaker) that is at Palmer station right now managing a little bit of everything. He leaves pretty soon, hell for all I know he might be doing the return trip with you guys, if you run into a bearded guy that is funny as hell say hi for me. He has been bumming around Jackson Hole for quite a few years so should have some good stories about the town. Have fun!!

  11. 11 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I’ll try to look him up. There is a friend of a friend there that I’m also supposed to try and contact. All I know is his nickname is…”The Duck”.

  12. 12 Colin in CA Sep 24th, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Very jealous Steve. Maybe in a couple of years when I have the cash I’ll swing this trip. Definitely sounds very fun. I hope the weather works out for you! :-)

  13. 13 randosteve Sep 24th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Start saving your pennies Colin…because I think Doug is putting a trip like this together to South Georgia Island in the future.

  14. 14 Will Sep 25th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Nice trip ! What BD skis are you bringing.

  15. 15 randosteve Sep 25th, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Jury is still out on the skis for the trip…but I think I’m going to bring two pairs. The 185 Justices…and some prototypes. Sorry…sworn to secrecy on those puppies! :wink:

  16. 16 Ted Sep 28th, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Can’t wait for the TR on this one. Maybe a local slide show or something?

  17. 17 randosteve Sep 28th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Possibly…maybe raise some $$$ for the Avy Center or something.

  18. 18 Andrew Sep 29th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Just spent last summer down there doing research along the West Antarctic Peninsula and at Palmer Station. I’ve got some photos of the places you will be skiing on my website here:

    http://www.mit.edu/~drewmcd/photo/2009_albums/2009_albums.html

    Enjoy!

    Andrew

  19. 19 randosteve Sep 29th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Andrew…thanks for the stoke. Here’s a tease folks!




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