First, I want to give a huge thanks to Doug at Iceaxe.tv and SuperG at Smith Optics. Thanks so much guys!
The term “trip of a lifetime” gets thrown around a lot with a jaunt like this and while the phrase hints at how special the trip is, I don’t like it because it insinuates that I might never go back. It was hard to get pulled away from a lifetime-worth of aesthetic alpine lines after only a handful of days. Shoot, a lifetime wouldn’t be near enough time to ski all the best lines on the Antarctic Peninsula. Doug Stoup clearly feels the same because he has already begun organizing the 2013 trip.
The night before heading to sea the whole 127-stong posse met for dinner in Ushuaia
Local libations were imbibed. We turned out to be a thirsty bunch.
Where’s Waldo: Matty edition
Stoke meter: high
In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device
The Gorbachev seal of approval
Shoving off from Argentina
Bound for some of the roughest seas on the planet
A hundred miles from port we were in the Drake Passage where the swells make drawers open and close like a scene from Ghostbusters.
Land Ho: after about two and a half days of open ocean we reached the Antarctica Peninsuala
The first stop was a penguin colony
The little guys have heaps of personality. They’re every bit as goofy and endearing as cartoons had led me to believe.
Blue eyed shags look like small dinosaurs
A content seal
The world is your snow cone
After communing with the penguins we headed back to the ship for another 5-course lunch. Following lunch we suited up for skiing, which was good because I was begninning to get twitchy admiring the cornicopia of couloirs and faces that had been making appearances between the low clouds.
I got to hang with a strong posse: 2x Olympic Gold Medalist Seth Wescott, followed by Chris Davenport, followed by hard-charger/rockstar Matt Reardon followed by hard-charger/cinematographer NoHow
The light was milky and we reasoned that skiing near rocks would be better visibility, so we hiked a little steep couloir. After a two month summer intermission, I think this counts as my first ski run of ‘11-‘12. Not bad.
Airing out the gear in the hallways
Overnight the ship motored to a new zone. Unfortunately the light was still flat. Skiing by penguins made up for it.
Hands down the biggest touring party I’ve been to
Change for a nickel?
Booter building was cut short when ice began surrounding the ship. We hit the mini-scoop anyway.
Glacier skiing right into the ocean is so freakin cool
With another new zone out the window, the next day dawned KAVU. Poachninjas head to shore.
I stared, all slackjaw, at the surroundings
Dav leads the way up to a steep face
…And time for another big feeding. Every lunch and dinner the menu featured a couple appetizer options, then a soup course, salad course, next a list of entres that included options of meat, fish, veggie and gluten-free meals followed by desert. [Firstworldproblem] It was impossible not to put on pounds when you’re fed this way. [/Firstworldproblem]
Sunset circa 10pm
We skied off a peak, cutting down and lookers right over cracks. In this pic another group had decided to follow our tracks, a decision they were soon regretting.Looking across the glacier and back to the ocean
It was snowing fat flakes when we skied back to the ocean
Back on the ship, the crew was lining up trays of vodka shots.
The powers that be had decided that it was “polar swim day.” They wanted dippers to go one at a time from the zodiac dock while wearing a safety line. They had brought a defibulator to the scene, just in case.This group, however, has a high risk tolerance.
Kim Havell eyeing her line
After six days of skiing, the time had come to head north. The crew was anticipating a rough Drake Passage crossing and the liberal number of puke bags dispensed around the ship hinted at their concern.
By the next morning, the swells were big and the wind was ripping. Heather holds on in the +100mph breeze.
For a number of hours the conditions ranked 12 on the Beaufort Scale, which is as high as that rating of oceanic violence goes. Furniture smashed itself to kindling in a places where it wasn’t bolted down and pretty much everything that wasn’t buttoned down hit the floor before rolling from wall to wall, passengers included. Andrew McLean made a video.
That night we entered the shelter of the Beagle Channel and by morning we were back in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Want to sign up for the next one? Talk to Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley over at http://www.iceaxe.tv