One of my favorite (and best-selling) ski photos I’ve shot was from an incredible trip to Antarctica last year. This photo in particular, has stirred questions such as, “What is skiing in Antarctica like?” or simply, “What is Antarctica like”?
This ski shoot to the frozen continent, turned out to be extremely memorable. Yes, it was cold, but not as cold as most would expect. In general, there are two regions people visit when going to Antarctica; the ice cap or the peninsula. In general, the ice cap refers to inland Antarctica, where temperatures can stay around -60 F in the winter. However, we visited the peninsula in the spring, which sees average day-time temps hovering right around freezing… not that cold on a sunny day. However, if you factor in the higher humidity at sea level and potential wind, the climate can quickly become what many would think the Antarctic climate to be; cold.
Enough of the cold talk, because it wasn’t any worse than what’s happening outside my studio here in the Teton area (40mph gusts, snowing and 20 degrees). As you can see from this photo, skiing in Antarctica is other-worldly. Massive, glaciated, 10,000’ mountains fall steeply into, then beneath the sea.
We were traveling through this kaleidoscope of ice, snow, rock and sea, on a 380’ Russian ship, via Ushuaia, Argentina. While exploring the ins and outs of this huge vessel, it looked, smelled and sounded enormous. However, after skinning up a safe, glaciated slope for an hour, I paused to look over my shoulder and take in the views. Our ship, amongst gigantic ice bergs and this wildly out-of-scale landscape, looked like one of my son’s bath toys, in an olympic-sized pool. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to most of the larger mountain ranges, and have never witnessed the scale of a landscape, so out of proportion with our sense of reality. In other words, everything in Antarctica, is HUGE!
Okay, on to the skiing, which is no doubt why you’re on Liftopia’s website. After reading the above, you can imagine the endless ski touring and ski mountaineering possibilities. Each morning, we’d zip, via Zodiac, from our warm, comfortable ship, to the ice-covered shores of the continent. Much of the coast line is stacked with calving, vertical glacial ice or rock cliffs, so the ‘landing areas’ can be few and far between. After navigating the shore line and shifting sea ice, we’d hop out of the Zodiac, unload the gear (which included overnight gear… just in case), put our skins and skis on, and start climbing. There’s nothing quite like starting and finishing a day of skiing, right at sea level.
While skiing on the Antarctic peninsula, we experienced a wide gamut of weather and snow conditions; sun, snow, wind, warm, cold… corn snow, breakable wind slab and crust. I can’t say we skied any bottomless powder, but hey, we did ski with penguins!
Here’s a handful of photos from the trip. Enjoy!