Antarctica 2011 – Trip Report

| December 7, 2011

It seemed hard to believe that anything could ever top the 2009 Ice Axe Antarctica Ski Cruise, but I think this year actually did.  In 2009 we had freakishly good weather (clear, sunny and calm every single day), but in 2011, I think we were able to get into more interesting terrain.  Part of this had to do with the ice pack conditions, but another part was Doug Stoup and company knowing where to go and when. As with both trips, the people and the energy of having 120 like-minded skiers on board a boat cruising around at the bottom of the earth is really what makes it all worthwhile.  You go for the skiing, but in the end it’s the entire package that you remember.

We had six days of skiing in Antarctica with 2-3 in Ushuaia, Argentina beforehand.  I kept a photo, gps and written log of where we went, which is available by clicking the photo below (2mb pdf file).

And, a 50 image set of my favorite photos…

On a personal level, I think I was almost as excited, if not more, about the return trip back across the Drake Passage as any of the skiing.  One of the great things about nature and being outdoors is witnessing weather events in all of their power and glory.  On a previous trip to Antarctica in 2003 (?) we hit 68 mph winds while sailing in a 50′ boat, which was pretty damn exciting.  This clocked in at a “Force 10” on the Beaufort scale, which seemed like it would be hard to beat, but since the scale goes up to Force 12 (hurricane), it was like getting sooooo close, but not quite the ultimate ride.  On both legs in 2009 and the down-bound leg of 2011, we had Force 2 conditions, which are hardly worth waking up for.  However, the return leg on this trip delivered the holy grail of oceanic intensity – Force 12 in the Drake, aka The Drake Shake.  I was so happy.  :)  The waves were a bit undersized at 8-10 meters, but the wind was piping up to 100+ knots.  Yehaw! It was especially great to experience this on a 320′ ice reinforced, steel hulled boat that was built and designed for conditions like this and was being skippered by a very experienced Captain.

The trip is happening again in 2013 and Karyn Stanley of Ice Axe was already getting emails requesting reservations before the ship reached the dock.  It’s an incredible ride.
Help support and document your wind chill factor with a Brunton Atmospheric Data Center Wind from Click on the photo below…

Tags: ,

Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (12)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Alex Kerney says:

    What sailboat were you on in ’03?

  2. Pinky says:

    Great photos and report Andrew. I don’t think i enjoyed the boat ride as much as you did. Really cool GPS tracks over the sat images. Happy Holidays and looking forward to skiing with you again in the future!

  3. Andrew says:

    Hi Alex – it was Skip Novak’s Palegic, skippered by none other than the man himself.

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi Pinky! That was a blast and I’m psyched you guys were able to make it as well as do most of the heavy lifting on the party scene. I hope we get a chance to make a few turns together ASAP. Are you moving as well, of just Kenta?

  5. Alex Kerney says:

    Nice, Pelagic Australis tried to abduct me last year. Those are some sweet boats. How long was that trip, and how much of it did you have to hang in Puerto Williams with the armada putzing about? 70 some odd knots is a fun blow in that size, especially when you drag both anchors at 2 am!

    One of the (many) dreams that I have is to make enough money to get a boat like that, or more specifically like Seal which was designed by one of Pelagic’s other skippers. Then go play around BC, Labrador, Greenland, and hopefully even make it down to Antarctica. But first I gotta find someone who wants to hire me.

  6. BP says:

    Holy crap that looks like a great trip!

  7. That seems like such an awesome adventure!! Would love to do it some time.

  8. Pinky says:

    Just Kenta leaving, the rest of us staying in Tokyo. I’m gonna try to join you at Ultima Thule if i can swing it but i’m running low on fun tickets. we’ll see.

  9. Gomez says:

    Nice where did you ski in Ushuaia?

  10. Andrew says:

    Just on the Marshal (spelling?) Glacier at the closed ski resort.

  11. samia says:


    2013 you will go again? wow! Hope to meet you there- or maybe even in Ushuaia. We are planning to head down there…

  12. Andrew says:

    Hi Samia – I’m definitely planning on going back in 2013 and have already begun to count down the days. It’s a blast! I’d love to get a group of four together ahead of time, so if you know of three other friends/people, ask them about it. The basic logistical building block of the trip is two groups of five (four skiers/riders + 1 guide) in a Zodiac, plus the driver, which makes a full boat of 11. Because of this, cohesive groups of four are ideal.

%d bloggers like this: