Penguin led ski touring: Miles Clark’s Antarctica Photo Essay

Chinstrap penguins on the ski track in Antarctica.  Photo: Court Leve

By BCA Pro Athlete Miles Clark

It’s not easy to access the land of Antarctica. The majority of land is guarded by 100-300 foot ice cliffs that prevent any kind of access. Every now and then, you find a ramp down to the shoreline and that’s what we use to access these mountainous islands and peninsulas.

Ramps are where the penguins access the land as well. Nearly every time we land to ski, we’re dealing with penguins. Sometimes hundreds of them.

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Doug Stoup and crew hike up an ice ramp to ascend an Antarctic slope.  Photo: Rodrigo Mujic, Powder South. 

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Lead guide Angela House led by a penguin on Ronge Island, Antarctica.  Photo:  Miles Clark

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Happy ski tour crew roped and climbing on Ronge Island, Antarctica.  Photo: Miles Clark.

Sunny skies, calm winds, glassy seas, and hundreds of penguins made for one helluva smooth trip skiing Antarctica with Ice Axe Expeditions in December 2016. We were able to go where we wanted, ski what we wanted, and stay out late everyday.

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Gentoo penguins are cute. Photo: Miles Clark.

This trip was by far the most epic ski trip I’ve been on in my life. Skiing great lines down to a smooth-as-silk ocean full of icebergs that dwarfed our 331-foot ship was simply surreal.

 

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Miles Clark skis Antarctica with Ice Axe Expeditions.  Photo: Court Leve.

Although I’d been on this trip before, for the first few days, the scenery just wouldn’t register in my brain. It all looked like a photograph, like a postcard, like somewhere I’d never get to go, like a dream. After about 4 days of brilliant sunshine and sparkling icebergs, I began to fully understand exactly what I was observing all around me. Once I finally gained some perspective, I was able to fully drink this place in and it tasted wild.

It takes 2 days to traverse the 600-miles of open ocean in the notorious Drake Passage to the Antarctica. Hundreds of birds followed us as we crossed the Drake in 10-foot seas each way, including the largest wingspan bird on Earth (11ft, 6in), the mighty Wandering Albatross.

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Map showing each landing point on our Ice Axe Expeditions trip to Antarctica.

During our six days on the Antarctic continent, we skied 7 different islands, touched down on the Antarctic Peninsula 4 different times, and visited one research station.

Good skiing, penguins everywhere, daunting ice-cliffs, yawning crevasses, corn snow, scorching sunshine, powder snow, flipping icebergs, crystal clear water, seals, killer whales, fin whales, albatross birds, a five-star floating hotel with amazing meals, and the Polar Plunge made this trip almost too much to reasonably psychologically digest.

There’s really nothing more that I can convey to you in words about this place. Please see the 100+ photos in my photo essay for the rest of the story. Thanks to everyone. Such an unreal trip.

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Last run skiing Antarctica in the blazing sunshine. Photo: Miles Clark.  


Read Miles Clark’s complete six-day photo essay of skiing Antarctica on Snowbrains here. Interesting in ski touring Antarctica  Join an expedition – see the options at Ice Axe Expeditions. All photos in this article are from Ice Axe Expeditions’ 2016 Antarctica trip.

Ice Axe Expeditions www.iceaxe.tvThe entire crew of the 2016 Ice Axe Expeditions trip to Antarctica.