Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Chris Davenport.
Well, I’m finally back in Aspen and have been up skiing some amazing powder on Ajax the last two days. But on my skins up the hill in the dawn hours, I can’t help but reflect on our recent journey to one of my favorite places in the world to ski, the Antarctic Peninsula. If I was to pick one word to describe all of the majesty of this place I would choose “stunning”. It’s magical in so many ways and continues to inspire me just like it did the first time I visited back to 2008. The experience is incredible, with long, mellow glacier runs, super-steep pucker faces, wild glaciers demanding total concentration, every snow condition you can imagine, insane amounts of wildlife, wild weather, and of course the feared but totally awesome crossing of the Drake Passage. Where else in the world can you find all of that in one packaged trip? Nowhere that I’m aware of.
Another thing that makes this trip so special are the people. I have to first thank the brains and brawn behind the Ice Axe Expeditions team, Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley. Without their leadership, logistics management, and positive attitudes the trip would never happen. Then there are the guides… a world-class team of individuals with incredible mountain and people skills. Getting to work with these folks is an honor and I always find myself learning a ton from all of them. So my hats off to: Doug Workman, Gregory Mintsev, Andrew Eisenstark, Jason Mack, Rich Meyer, Andrew McLean, Kim Havell, Angela Hawse, Todd Offenbacher, Forrest McCarthy, Howie Schwartz, Jorge Kozulj, Marco Gaiani, Stefan Palm, Per As, Jim Delzer, Kris Erickson, Alain Ledoux, Ben Mitchell, Nicolay from Kamchatka, and Glen Poulson. You guys are the BEST!
And then of course there are the clients, 100 inspired individuals who committed themselves to this epic journey and discovered a new place and new things about themselves and their abilities. They allow us as guides to lead them into some incredible locations and ski lines unlike any they have skied before. My group consisted of Joe Campbell, Abdur Chowdhury, Bruce Cummins, and Keoki Flagg. Keoki shot like a million images during the trip, many of which you can see below. Thanks to all of you for trusting in me and way to be solid out there in the mountains.
All right, since I have so many incredible images to share I’m going to annotate them and let them in part tell the story.
Every day starts with a 6 am guide meeting on the top deck of the Sea Adventurer. Here Doug Stoup discusses the days objectives.
Me, Keoki, and Abdur take a break and transition to skins for another run above Andvord Bay. Obviously we love our Vapur Anti-Bottles!
Myself and Rich Meyer on Half Moon Island getting ready for a short, steep couloir I called the “Delzaster Couloir” after guide Jim Delzer’s first descent. There is our good ship the Sea Adventurer in the distance. Photo Joe Campbell.
So what does a guide on the “Ski Cruise” carry in his pack? Well this is mine. Left to right: Smith I/Ox Goggles, Backcountry.com Buff, Clif Bar thermos, two GoPro Hero 3+ with clamp mount, snow picket and wands, Beal 8.2mm 60M glacier rope, BD cobra axe, BD shovel and probe, BD Alias Avalung Pack, Vapur water bottle, tool kit with all sorts of items including bivy sack, cord, tape, clamps, and ski tuning gear, med kit, guide book, Clif Bars and Shot Bloks, UHF/VHF radio, Smith Overdrives and Frontmans, Spyder Bernese down jacket (in stuff sack), Kastle Hotmelt skins, a Red Bull, BD crampons, BD harness with glacier setup.
One of my favorite things to do on the Peninsula is pick up a gleaming block of many thousand year old glacier ice on the way back to the ship. It goes very well with Glenlivit, brings out the flavors. I picked it up after we visited the now famous “Blue Hole”, a deep and incredible crevasse that you can safely enter and enjoy.