By: randosteve|Posted on: November 15, 2009|Posted in: Antartica, International | 6 comments

Photo Scott Fennell

It has been really hard to believe all the good weather we have been having, and although it snowed a little on us late in the afternoon today, it has been more or less blue skies for the majority of the trip. I haven’t worm my Gore-Tex clothing once so far and I’ve usually been over dressed each day. A real surprise considering we are on Antarctica.

Photo Scott Fennell

The plan today was to ski at one location in the morning and another place in the afternoon. The terrain was short, but steep in the morning and for our first run we split up and skied two neighboring couloirs. I opted for one on the skier’s right, which was narrower, but this also meant that is was more protected from the sun, which kept the snow firmer and crustier.

Photo Scott Fennell

Though we were the first group on land, it wasn’t long before most of the other groups started to catch up and we tried to keep up the pace to try and stay one step ahead of them. The lines were pretty short, only about a thousand feet long, but they went all the way down to the ocean, which made them that much more appealing. The snow quality improved as we wrapped around further to the skiers left and we were soon hiking up in our t-shirts and skiing corn snow as glaciers calved off into the ocean behind us. Pretty cool stuff!

We shuttled back to the ship for lunch and cruised around looking at some waddell seals on the way. We also saw a leopard seal, which tend to be more aggressive, swimming around next to the zodiac. With a relatively slow internet connection here on the ship, it’s been a bit challenging updating TetonAT, so took advantage of less people on their computers, skipped lunch and managed to get a post up in the meantime.

The ship cruised to a new location for the afternoon, which had a cool island still locked up in some sea ice. We’ve been lucky with open waters so far on this trip, and it was kind of interesting to sea the vast plot of water still frozen over from the long, cold and dark winter of Antarctica. We wanted to ski an aesthetic couloir right next to the ocean, but one of the film crews was shooting it, so being courteous, we let them do their thing before dropping in. A small fin split the line in two and I hit the right side, which had decent snow.

After putting the skins back on, we toured up canyon to scope out some of the terrain further in. It was very warm now and the snow was getting a bit mushy, making conditions a little tricky and slightly more dangerous on some of the steeper lines. Others were thinking the same thing and chatter on the radio informed us that Jeremy Jones and Xavier De La Rue backed off on a few objectives because of this. It was reassuring to know that we were on the same program and thinking and feeling the same about the snow conditions.

Photo Scott Fennell

Its wild how quickly things change in the mountains, and soon it was snowing lightly and cooling things off. While this was nice and refreshing, and increasing the safety in relation to the snowpack, it was also stiffening up the snow and making it like the consistency of a snow cone. The light was pretty flat now and you could tell that most of the skiers were a bit intimidated now and losing their confidence with the deteriorating conditions, and opting for the mellower routes downward and taking things very slowly.

Photo Scott Fennell

Since the conditions were marginal and even though I’d rather be skiing, it didn’t bother me too much when it was time to head back to the ship for dinner. It has no doubt been pretty kush coming back to a four course meal everyday and we are far from roughing it on this adventure. Ahhh….living the good life and I really can’t complain one bit!