Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ski pictures and more penguins.

Antarctica skiing is a lot like Alaska heliskiing except without the helicopters.  The weather changes incredibly fast which means we are often in hurry up and wait mode.  The beautiful rugged mountain peaks bathed in pure sunlight we awoke to this morning got us super excited about another day of skiing.  By the time we finished breakfast and got the first group out, the weather changed to completely over cast and 50 knot wind gusts!  It was a challenge getting the group that went to shore back because an empty zodiac could easily be flipped by those winds.  While waiting fo the zodiac to return, the ship was hit by an ice berg.  The wind blew it right into us.  The ship is designed for such strikes with a reinforced hull, so all it really served to do was create a jolt large enough to spill some tea.  So know we've picked up the anchor and are steaming to "Paradise Valley."  Admittedly, many people would not consider shear walls of snow and ice paradise, but it works for us. 

Back to yesterday.  The way things work is that we put on life jackets, hand the equipment down to the zodiac, and two teams (1 guide and 4 skiers each) climb down into the boat.  We then drive over to the shore where there is a chance of getting on the glacier without falling into the freezing ocean.  We scarmble onto the ice and snow, pass all our gear up in a chain, and the zodiac leaves.  In the case yesterday we had to climb a 35 degree hill about a 75 feet high straight up from the water.  We then put on our skinning gear and roped up together such that if someone falls in a crevasse we can get them out.  We skin up a ridge or some other objective, and then ski down.  After doing a couple of laps, we ski back down off the edge of the glacier to the water, and go back to the ship.  There is a lot of gear changes, equipment movement, and the such that is quite complicated.

Here are some more pics.  Don't worry, I will try to find something humorous to talk about soon.

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