Sunday Photo – Dater Glacier, Antarctica

| September 28, 2008

I’m heading down to Antarctica (yeah!) for a ski trip in Novemember, so I have the White Continent on my mind. Today’s photo was one of my favorites from my first trip to Antarctica in 2000/2001 where we climbed a new route up the “backside” of the Vinson Massif. 

Skiers crossing the Dater Glacier in Antarctica on their way to the summit of the Vinson massif.
Skiers crossing the Dater Glacier in Antarctica on their way to the summit of the Vinson massif.

The purpose of this trip was to make a NOVA film, which I think was called “Trapped in Ice.”  Conrad Anker was the main climber, Jon Krakauer was the historian and Dan Stone was the Glaciologist.  Dave Hahn and I were the field guides, so we got to double-haul lots of heavy loads, set up camps, cook and carry camera gear.  It was a blast.

Contrary to popular belief, Antarctica is not rip-ass cold 100% of the time, but when it is, it really is.  In this photo, we were skinning along a glacier, which was quite pleasant, but when we came within ten feet of a shadow, as Conrad said, we were entering “the steel glove of love” which meant the temps were going to drop a good 40-50 degrees once we left the sun.  Within a few feet, the temps went from casual to brutal.

Vinson, the highest point on Antarctica at right above 16,000′ is commonly referred to as the “Vinson Massif” instead of Mt. Vinson as it is kind of a huge dome with many wart-like peaklettes on top of it, which make it hard to tell exactly which one is the actual summit.

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Category: Sunday Photo

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 (6)

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  1. randosteve says:


    i thought i was an early bird.

  2. You going on the boat or another trip in Antarctica this fall? Can’t wait to see the TR if it’s a personal trip or to say hi in person if you’ll be on SkiCruise!


  3. Andrew says:

    Hi Kellie – I’m going on the Ski Cruise with Doug Stoup. It should be a blast and it’s not that far off. We’ll be skiing in a little over a month! It will be fun to meet you in person.

    Are you related to the Okonek bush pilot up in Alaska?

    Happy turns,

  4. Kellie says:

    Yep, I’m sorta related . . . Jim Okonek is my grandpa’s cousin . . . not exactly linear, but same bloodline :-)

    See you next month – should be a blast! Now, I just need to figure out my Halloween costume!

  5. Henry Dater says:

    I have come lately to this photograph and like it as much as any I have seen of Dater Glacier, which was named after my father Henry M. Dater an Antarctic historian.

  6. Andrew says:

    Hello Henry – thanks for stopping by and checking this site out. Your father has a beautiful stretch of the earth named in his honor.

    On that same trip, I ended up climbing and skiing Mt. Mohl. Afterwards, I tried to find/contact the Mohl family (I think he was a hydrologist on Operation Deep Freeze?), to no avail. There is a lot of interesting and obscure history down in that section of the world.

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