Friday, February 11, 2011

Back from Antarctica at Last!

A long time down south, way south! I will post separate posts for each trip we did. Simply the most amazing season ever yet in Antarctica. The season started with on time flights straight into the new Base Camp this year on the Union Glacier, then directly out to Vinson Base Camp where Andy Holzner and Team and myself managed to do a very fast Vinson expedition in perfect weather. Andy is totally blind, what a lesson in determination and capabilities! Several days of great AT skiing before and after in super light Antarctic Feather Powder!


Next up was an unplanned opportunity to guide a "Ski the Last Degree" expedition, with 2 days to prep! Off we flew to 89 degrees south with a small team of Chinese to ski the last 60 or so miles to the South Pole. That went very well (still thawing out from that!). Quite a feeling being out so far and watching the sun spin circles overhead. The sun never sets and changes 15 degrees almost every hour. Quite disorienting! So my first time to the South Pole, Yahoo!


Back to the Union Glacier for a few days, then back out to the South Pole, this time to hang out for 5 days with Richard Parks, retired Rugby Star and super nice guy. Spent New Year's there and had an opportunity to Kite Ski every day! Spectacular Parhelions every day!  see .


And then another supposed quick trip back to the South Pole, an overnight that turned into 4 days this time with another ANI guide, Winslow and her Chinese Team, also Neil (there for an overnight camping adventure!) and David Rootes. We all made the most of some quite bad weather this time before flying again back to the Union Glacier.


Spent quite awhile here guiding clients on various skiing and climbing adventures. 4 ascents of the local Mt Rossman including a couple first ski descents. Perfect kiting conditions most evenings. A lot of delays this year with the Illyshin-76 aircraft taking people to/from Chile. So camp here was a busy place most of January.


Then the trip I had been waiting for since the start of the season, guiding an expedition out to the quite remote Mt. Sidley in the Marie Byrd Land region of Antarctica. 550 miles out from BC to the highest volcano in Antarctica. It's one of the new seven volcanic summits of the world. An interesting opportunity that turned into a fast and successful adventure up a new route and quite probably the second ascent of the mountain itself. Sidley is a huge volcano with half the crater blown apart very much like St Helens, yet still 14,000 ft. high. A relatively easy route leads up the East ridge which we did in 44 hours out of our Base Camp climbing and skiing 23 of those hours. We had flown out in a turbine converted DC-3 aircraft which waited for us at BC. Very nice to ski right onto the plane and fly back quickly. Lots more on this soon.




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