Dates are contingent on the weather
Join MountainZone.com as we follow a unique climbing adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula that may well include first ascents of peaks in that remote and beautiful landscape and first descents as well. Members of the Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition will cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, aboard a Russian research vessel (with an ice-hardened hull) to the wild and pristine western shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. There, in the often stormy waters of the Gerlache Straits and Crystal Sound, deep in the Antarctic region, the team will scout nearby mountains and attempt suitable peaks as conditions allow.
Doug Stoup is leader of this unusual "climb-cruise" expedition, which is made possible by the Antarctic expertise of Adventure Network International, the adventure travel company that operates flights directly to the Antarctic continent (and on to the Vinson Massif) and offers a number of cruises in those waters. Expedition members will enjoy comfortable accommodations aboard the MV Akademik Shuleykin while they steam to the remote islands near the Peninsula.
Depending on weather and sea conditions, members have a number of climbing options to choose from, and will travel from the boat to shore via Zodiacs on several occasions. Dave Hahn, MountainZone.com columnist and ANI guide, will be leading a guided party up known routes in the same vicinity simultaneous with the activities of Stoup's group.
Expedition leader Stoup was on the Vinson Massif in December where he and Stephen Koch, Mark Newcomb, and Doug Coombs achieved the first snowboard descent of the Vinson Massif and the first ski and snowboard descents of nearby Mount Shinn. Stoup, truly intoxicated by the Antarctic environment, can't wait to get back.
"Basically," he told MountainZone.com before departing on February 9, "being in the interior of Antarctica last month was an amazing experience. I fell in love with that place, can't get enough, can't wait to go back. I'm even starting to plan a solo Antarctic crossing unsupported. It's a place that calls out for adventure. It's always been a dream for me, and that was heightened by the recent trip to Vinson. The sea life, the maritime conditions, the wild landscape, all make it a really special place."
Stoup and his team of Rick Armstrong, Stephen Koch, Hans Saari and photographer Kris Erickson [of the recent Shishapangma Expedition], and filmmaker Rick Hunt, will seek out suitable objectives to climb and descend on skis or snowboards. A documentary film of the adventure is to be produced by Stoup's Ice Axe Productions. The lucky group has a veritable smorgasbord of mountains to choose from.
"There are some classic peaks that have been climbed on the Peninsula, but as far as we know very few ski descents and no snowboard descents," Stoup said. "And islands in Crystal Sound may harbor some first ascents. We'll have a couple of different places where we'll be able to get off the boat and make five-day exploratory climbing trips that hopefully will reveal some attractive objectives."
"The team is really strong," Stoup said, "with extreme skiers Rick Armstrong and Hans Saari and extreme snowboarder Stephen Koch, plus we're lucky to have Kris Erickson as expedition photographer and Rick Hunt, a cinematographer from Teton Gravity Research, who will be shooting 16 millimeter."
Stay tuned to MountainZone.com for one of the greatest mountaineering adventures of the year. "We're all really going to enjoy trying to share some of the beauty of this incredible place with others via MountainZone.com," says Stoup.
Peter Potterfield, MountainZone.com Staff