SEARCH BY LOCATION:
Skiing the Frozen Continent of Antarctica: Part 6 (Somewhere off the Antarctic Peninsula) | 04/12/2010, by BrennanLagasseIn Part 1 of "Skiing the Frozen Continent of Antarctica", Dark Star gets the opportunity of a lifetime to go backcountry skiing in Antarctica. Part 2 (The Martial Glacier) picks up with a ski report from his first turns of the trip in Ushuaia, Argentina. Part 3 (The Drake Passage) details his adventure heading South, and Part 4 (Land Ho!) describes his first day of skiing on the Southern-most continent, and Part 5 (The Lemaire Channel) one of the skiers on the trip fell into a crevasse!
Somewhere off the Antarctic Peninsula
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, taking in our surroundings, and plans were made for the remainder of the day. As we sailed to a sheltered cove the sun came out, birds showed up to follow the ships progress as more whales were spotted, and penguins danced on the coastline. Daylight was running dry and because we had gone so far north darkness was actually going to come for a least a few hours. Thus the decision was made that most parties would visit a nearby penguin rookery up close and not ski.
Our crew buzzed around in the zodiac, passed the penguin rookery on for a morning mission, and took shots of the crazy icebergs and humongous leopard seals that were interested in our presence.
The stars were out in full force that night planting seeds of hope that the sun would return for the morning. At first, it held out behind a thick glaze of cloud cover, but in reality it was fine as my group took an early morning ride to hang with the penguins up and close.
Honestly, they are such cool animals to spend some time with. They are so unique in how they travel up and down slope and nest into little holes that they actually defend as territory from other penguins. They are also quite frisky creatures especially in that it was mating season. There was definitely a lot of action happening that morning of our visit.
After the rookery we headed for a spot that looked like it would give us a good jump on a sick looking zone to ski in for the day. Remember that thing I told you about terrain looking all mellow when in fact it is not? Our drop off was right at the foot of nothing that looked outrageous. We all thought we were going to skin it at first. But we couldn't, and Andrew actually built an anchor for us to tie into as we climbed on belay with crampons and ice axes up to where we could actually start skinning.
Sam Bass, an editor for Skiing Magazine along with our expedition leader Doug Stoup joined us for the day. The zone were found ourselves in had several worthy objectives that could be shot from multiple vantage points. After the ski stars got a few shots in Doug took off and the rest of us skinned to the top of a peak at the head of the ridge. As we crested towards the top the view outward was of nothing but ocean. It was another gorgeous summit holding the potential that we were the first to ever sit on top, and ski back down.
Looking out there were groups spread miles apart from each other, all with access to amazing peaks. This area was surely set up for an expedition like ours as everyone had clear access to a peak all for themselves. When my group cruised back to the section of ice and snow we had climbed up in the morning Andrew set up another anchor for us to clip in and rappel with skis on down to a safe spot. A huge seal waited for us near our lifejackets at the pick up spot as our driver arrived with a few cold beers to refresh us after our thirteen hour mission. A few more drinks flowed that evening and I must say that good scotch tastes amazing with a chunk of glacial ice from the ocean.
Later on, Doug informed me my group was stoked on my work and he intended to let me freeski away from them to get some more vertical in the following day. I was so thankful that he was pleased as I was still holding the mentality that if he asked me to mop the bathrooms at that moment, I would have jumped at the order.
Read the complete story here:
The Martial Glacier
Crossing the Infamous Drake Passage
The Lemaire Channel
Somewhere off the Antarctic Peninsula
Unloading the Pack in the South Shetland Islands
Ship of Fools
Another Powder Day in Ushuaia and the Epicness of El Chalten