If 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, South America.
I’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 as 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.
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 on Wiencke Islands.
The 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.
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 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.
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.
Our 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!