Monday, December 28, 2009

Ski Mountaineering on the Antarctic Peninsula

I just returned from my second ski mountaineering expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula this season--this time aboard the 70' motor/sail yacht, The Australis. I was guiding a film crew led by Jim Surette of Granite Films who is working on a film project for Chris Davenport of Aspen.

We were 25 days at sea. Each crossing of the Drake Passage (from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Peninsula) took about 4 days. While we did not encounter incredibly rough seas, they were rugged enough to see just about everyone puking as we got tossed about in the small boat. During one especially rough night I was thrown from my bunk. In fact, the only injuries from the trip were bruised bones from getting thrown into walls, across the saloon, and down the stairs.

We had incredible weather and were able to ski many good lines. Some had been skied before by the late Hans Saari and others were first descents in all likely hood. Some of the bigger objectives, like Mt. Shackleton, were impossible due to bad weather. Mt. Shackleton would be a proud objective for a ski descent. The climbing potential in the region is vast. Alex Lowe ticked some lines in the 90's and it seems to be popular among Brits, but the region certainly does not see that much traffic despite the abrupt, steep mountains that abound. I certainly look forward to returning.

Looking south of the bow of the Australis into the Lemaire Channel.

The Europa, another sail yacht we came upon in the area.

Zodiac picking us up after a ski descent of Mt. Mill.

Stian Hagen on Mt. Mill.

-Doug Workman

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