First, I want to give a huge thanks to Doug at 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.


Group photo


Where’s Waldo: Matty edition


Our whip


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

Looking back down

Seth and Dav on top, looking over the edge

Yeah, looks like it goes

Snowbaord hop turns on firm 50 degree look challenging

StraightChuter and company skinning to the base of the face


NoHow skis the windblown pow

You can call up a zodiac on the radio and they’ll pick you up to take you back to the boat for lunch or to another line. No time for lunch on the boat today.

The water is so clear that it looks shallower than it really is. 220+ ft visibility according to the ship workers

Unloading for another run

Skinning up

It’s amazing how fast a ship full of skiers will track out an area. The 127 of us were a motivated group.

NoHow booting up

Find the ship

There’s the ship

NoHow and I

Dav doing what he does

Wescott shredding

Reardon going in for the wallride slash

Loading up to head back for après festivities

Instead of going back to the ship, NoHow and I got dropped off below a run where one of the cruisers getting his speedwing set. The light was nice.

Once the wind chilled out, he was airborne

…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]

“And next I’d like both deserts. With icecream.”

Sunset circa 10pm

7am view from our dormitorio

It started sunny, but the barometer was falling

And it was murky again by the time we put ashore

Lots of full-value terrain and lifetimes of alpine climbing objectives

I got offered the sharp end, which was flattering

Until we headed into crevase-land

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

And over at nearby rugged, rimed peaks

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.


NoHow en route to a massive ass-bruise

The next day we cramponed up steep firm snow that was great for climbing with whippets. NoHow shows how.

Dav and Fernando

It was a frosty morning. This is how I pictured Antarctica being pretty much all the time, but it turned out to be the exception rather than the rule

Spirts remained high, despite frozen eyelashes

We ran into SraightChuter on top who was identified by his eye-searing neon rope

Dav drops in

A nice long glacier run down to the ocean

There was pow on the leeward side of the ridge we climbed

And back to the mothership

After a robust lunch we went out for another ski

Kim Havell eyeing her line

Fernando finds soft snow

Dav, Kim and Noah billygoated up an outcrop

Matt Reardon GS-ing it down

Dav killed time while waiting for a zodiac pickup

That night there was a costume party. has gone for the “Black and White” theme on each of their Antarctic ski cruises and stuck with it on this trip too.

Spirits were high


Sporting a crushing hangover, the next day began with ibuprofen, squinting, and Leapoard seals.

It looks like a living, breathing LoveSac

Dav and I found a chute to ski

I was sweating liquor fumes around this point.

Seth decided to follow the booter.

It was right steep

But it sheltered some good snow

Next we headed towards a rock pillar flanked by chutes that we’d spotted from the zodiac

Chris hanging tips over the entrance


Reardon sends a windlip


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.

StraightChuter either absorbing sea spray or just more nervous than that grin lets on.

Rock n Roll

When the waves began breaking over the top deck, we were forced inside.

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