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2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition
2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition 2000 Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Ski/Snowboard Expedition
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1999 Antarctica Ski/
Snowboard Expedition

Shishapangma '99

Expedition Dispatches

Thank You, and Goodnight
Thursday, February 24, 2000

Douglas Stoup
Another successful trip to the most beautiful place on earth; still preserved and untouched like no other place. I am travelling across the Drake Passage, trying to think up a way to return as soon as possible. This part of Antarctica is so unique and different from the interior continent, it has the wildlife and the sea to add to its beauty. The team descended around 14,000 vertical feet and climbed seven different peaks. I have skied and snowboarded all over the world, but this experience had to be the most scenic skiing and snowboarding I have ever witnessed. My last impression of the Antarctic Peninsula was snowboarding down a 2,100-foot face with the sun shining bright and almost snowboarding into a Fur seal napping on the snow. From the summit of this face in Neko Bay, I could see a pod of Minke whales cruising and a rookery of Gentoo penguins below.

Antarctic Skiing
Not only did our team pioneer new routes and experience the beauty of the last place on earth, we were treated to a floating five-star hotel to return to after a day in the mountains. I want to thank my awesome team: Stephen Koch, Rick Armstrong, Hans Saari, Kris Erickson, and Rick Hunt for their hard work and dedication to the expedition.

I also want to thank the staff on the Akademik Shuleykin and Marine Expeditions, they made our stay incredible. I want to give a special thanks to Anne Kershaw and the whole Adventure Network staff; without this amazing company none of us could have ever gotten to this beautiful continent.

I want to thank Andrea Sandy at Life-Link; Rod Meyers at Shaklee; Scott Rivers at Burton; Michael Naughton at Nelson Kellerman; Hayes Wheelless at The North Face; the boys at Teton Gravity Research; Tag Kliener at Smith Optics; Tory Jackson at GU; Dale Bard at Black Diamond; Ian Reid at Primus; Shannon Nering, Merv, Peri at Alliance Travel; Dave Hahn; Natalie Stoup; and our family and friends that help make the Antarctic Peninsula Climb and Cruise Expedition a huge success. I want to extend thanks to Peter Potterfield and Michelle Quigley at, without the Zone we would not be able to reach millions of people through the cybercasts.

Until the next adventure, see ya later.

Hans Saari
As we sailed into the Drake and away from the Peninsula, we were greeted once again with an unexpected event. The sun was setting — a huge orange ball that hovered on the horizon, sinking slowly. As it disappeared, a small sphere of green — the infamous green flash — radiated light for just a second. I am not quite sure what the atmospheric conditions are that created it, but it was an appropriate way to end the trip. Every day of our adventure produced a new surprise. From the seals which swam circles around our Zodiacs, to the Humpback whale which arced under our boat in a white flash, this trip was amazing. We saw icebergs of all shades of blue, heard thousands of tiny ice pieces popping like Rice Krispies as they melted, witnessed entire walls of serac ice plunge into the ocean, met tiny furry penguin babies which poked at our feet with curious beaks, ate sublime food cooked by our five-star chef and skied to our hearts' content.

It is heartwarming to know that there are places on this earth which have not been ruined by humans. I hope we can keep it that way. I think there is a treaty which protects Antarctica from mining for the next 50 years, but demand for the resources here could change all that. I encourage people to come here now and see the beauty. Bring your Scopolamine patches, if you do. I hope that the roaring '60s keep their mellow temperament 'till we reach Ushaia and the stability of terra firma. Beauty is best ingested on a calm stomach.

For me, this has been a cathartic trip. After the disastrous Shishapangma expedition, a happy ending to our journey is most welcome. I found that I have become more conservative in the mountains. I worry about my friends constantly and shiver with each serac that we pass and crevasse that we bridge. Sorrow is still with me. I can see the avalanche that took the lives of Alex and Dave often as I fall asleep. My memories still crackle with vividness, refusing to fade as most memories do. But life flows on. After summitting Mount Dimaria, Kris pointed out that we had skied peaks together on four different continents. I see many adventures in the future with him. I hope we can find some good skiing in Africa and Australia.

These last few months have made me question my enthusiasm for the mountains. Why do I climb? I hate those generic, poorly thought out responses like "putting it all on the line makes me appreciate life better." That is like saying you binge drink so that you can enjoy being sober more. BS for sure, eh? Climbing for me is a means of giving form to my energy. It's a personal expression, an embodiment, either in the objective or in the actual movement, of what I like to think is my soul. The dangers do not make me enjoy day-to-day life more. I live those days as if they were my last anyway. You don't need climbing to love your girlfriend, family and friends. But I think that part of being human is delving into the unexplored, and since the Spice Islands have already been discovered, climbing seems like a good alternative. It turns out that life is pretty unpredictable and dangerous anyway, so I might as well get after it in the mountains. Besides, it is always good to have a story to tell.

This expedition had great chemistry. Rick was always motivated and showed us how ski steeps with fluid style. Stephen constantly broke trail with his orangutan post holing technique. He spearheaded adventures, from climbing icebergs (grounded, of course) to swan diving into the ocean. Kris, the invisible man, shot his usual outlandish amount of film while running circles around the group. Rick Hunt always started the group hiking. "I'm not fit," he would say as he began blasting up the mountain with his giant Terraplane pack stuffed full of camera gear. He did a helluva job probing for crevasses, too. Doug provided the vision for the expedition and had a constant willingness to explore the steeps. All in all, an unforgettable trip!

Side Bar of Random Trivia
1: Is it worth taking Scopolamine for seasickness if the anticipated side effects are drowsiness and nausea?
2: The ratio of my turns to Rick Armstrong's is about 10:1.
3: Sharpen your edges on your skis often and wax more than once a year.
4: Objects in Antarctica are bigger than they appear.
5: Elephant seals can weigh up to four tons.
6: Don't move your queen into the middle of the board early in a chess game.
7: When reaching for a wine glass, turn your thumb up to decrease the chances of a spill.

P.S. Thank You ANI

Stephen Koch
Now it is my turn to spew a few thoughts, having not pushed for a turn on the computer often on the trip, as there were others far more enthusiastic and more eloquent. Our crossing of the Drake has been a treat — far from the normal rough seas and big swells. On the way, over I had to miss three meals in a row. Not really miss them, but give them up a bit early. It was something about the dining room. Only the first night on our return did I miss dinner, going to bed early.

This trip has been a treat from the start. We managed to ride and climb something every day, even when it was raining and there was little visibility. We didn't get a chance to attempt any of the higher peaks in the areas we visited, but there is always next time. We did manage to do many fine ascents and descents on what was usually very wet snow. Now I know what the Northwest snow must be like and I prefer the lighter snow of Jackson Hole, but the stability factor is huge. The number of unclimbed and undescended mountains boggles my mind, with the climbing and snowboarding/skiing potential seemingly limitless down here. We had a fantastic team and hopefully we captured some of the climbs and descents we did for you to see soon.

A few words on calculated risks...taking them is part of the mystery and romance of climbing. Without risks the outcome of any given trip/project/peak would be known and guaranteed and therefore uninteresting. I push myself hard toward achieving my goals, both as an individual and for the team. There are always excuses to be made if one doesn't want to do something. Whatever folks want to live with. Talk is cheap and actions are what count!

Before I recently dove off of the top deck of the ship, about 20 meters, I had never dove from such heights. I did not truly know the outcome... would I be able to hold my position and land in a way that would not cause injury? This is what I wanted to find out, from my body to my mind, for myself. It might also have had something to do with keeping up with Kris, after he did a flip with a half twist off of the top deck. Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, until someone gets hurt... but no one did!

I was riding a Burton Frontier 166 with race plates, which was the ideal board for the conditions here. My normal gear for trips down here was as follows: board, Scarpa Lazer boots, harness, ice screw, two cordalettes, Red Poles with Black Diamond Whippet on one, one Black Diamond Cobra ice axe, ice threader (coat hanger), two runners, three 'biners, two Petzl TBlocs, Black Diamond Sabertooth crampons, two locking carabiners, belay/rappel device, transceiver, Contax TVS camera, film, Avocet Vertech watch, socks, The North Face (TNF) Cerro Torre jacket in pack (used once), balaclava (never used), neck gaiter (never used), goggles (used on all descents, but NEVER while climbing), sunglasses, knife, lighter, several GU, one liter water, Dynafit 130cm uphill skis with skins (carried and used once), 8mm, 60-meter cord (carried often and used for glacier travel a number of times), TNF climber's bib, TNF Micronamics zip-T, three-layer Gore Burton AK Jacket, TNF Paclite bibs (ripped many holes in them as they are so thin...thank God for duct tape), Aloe Up sunscreen, put on before leaving and Dermatone stick carried with me around my neck on a string, Life-Link Shovel, Burton Windstopper gloves with Pattard Leather (used exclusively for all climbing and riding except for one descent), Black Diamond Ice Age gloves (always carried in pack but only used once), wool hat and a TNF thin air pack (retro-fitted to carry a board) to carry it all.

Three weeks seems to be about the perfect length for a trip, especially when you don't have to wait to start getting the goods. I am looking forward to getting home and seeing my girlfriend, Tina, as well as hanging with friends before heading off on another adventure.

Thank you to the following folks who have helped me out: Tina; Bill and Mary Flowers; Hayes Wheelless; CJ King; Jason Olden and TNF; David Shriber; Karen Yankowsky; Josh Reid; Paul Maravetz; Scott Oliver; Chris Mask; Melanie Kirol; Kirstin Geishecker; Jim Frazier; JG; Rob Sprague; sister SIN; Leslie Cruz and, of course, Jake (all of Burton/Red); Dave Ellingson and Life-Link; Tory Jackson and GU; Ben Johnson and Petzl; Dale Bard and Black Diamond. I could not do it without you! Cheers

Rick Armstrong

Here I sit on our Russian vessel that I have come to feel at home on. I have a strange feeling that the last two weeks were a dream. It is hard to believe that every magnificent thing that happened to us could actually be real. Before my trip here, I didn't truly know what untouched wilderness was. From now until my demise I will always long for this place and I will seek places like it. Though I truly doubt I will find another Antarctica. I will be doing everything in my power to return and enlighten people about how important it is for us to protect the inhabitants of this distant land.

I was very lucky to be brought along on this trip and to have teammates that congealed so well. Hans Saari is a mentally and physically strong adventurer who always has a fire in his eyes and has lived many more years than most people his age. (He also made all of us look uneducated with his chess skills.) Kris Erickson is the strongest still cameraman I have ever met. He is fully capable in the high angle environment of mountaineering. Stephen Koch is a wild-eyed snowboarder who is very goal-driven and not afraid to take chances and make his own dreams come true. He is also a great roommate who accepts my "junk show" of gear and clothing as well as I accepted his. Rick Hunt, whom I've known for years, has a laid back and undeterred disposition even while post-holing in waist-deep snow with a 50-60 pound pack. I never once heard him complain during this journey. Doug Stoup was the one who made this all happen and brought us all together. He is a true explorer, not all that different than Shackleton in his leadership qualities, keeping us all happy and motivated to get things done. I hope to repay him someday for his generosity and for letting me fulfill one of my greatest dreams: to ski on Antarctica.

I also want to thank the crew of the ship:
Dave German: Always out looking for the next cool thing and finding good landings and big whales.
Dave Hahn: For letting us worry him with our daily exploits.
Kirstie Smith: For driving our Zodiacs safely and not leaving us on the wrong boat.
Natalie Stoup: For undivided attention to helping our expedition at any and all times of the day and night.
Chris Ralph: For the Russian version of Bon Appetit (Prev yet nova appetita) that woke me up every morning.
Rachel Shepard: For the daily reports and great enthusiasm.
Kitty Erkkila: For putting together the lists of everyone on our trip and for general good times.
Steve Allen: For fattening me up with five-star food.
Chris Flinn: For the decadent pastries and other incredible foods.
And, of course, the famous Patty Bruen, with his absolute dedication in feeding us beers and pretzels.
The captain, for letting us point towards weird spots with a large ship and watching us descend.
Yuri, for his dedicated food service, like no other.
And to the rest of the crew, who we did not get to know.

Thanks to ANI and The North Face, Smith Sport Optics, and Life-Link. Bon Voyage
P.S., Hollee, see you at home soon.

Rosalind Cooper

Guest Dispatch from one of the "Wellington Boot Brigade."

For those of us who came aboard with no great aspirations to climb or ski the unexplored territory, but clutching our Wellington boots, the ANI cruise fulfilled our dreams. The renowned Drake turned into a calm lake with albatross and petrols greeting us as we headed south to the Peninsula, where icebergs came into view. Groups of penguins jumping through the water were to become a familiar but ever-delightful sight. Visiting islands to see the different penguin colonies; Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie, meant twice-daily Zodiac rides around the icebergs of incredible shapes, hewn by wind and sea with ever-changing hues of blue and green. We would encounter many Crabeater seals cruising the waters. Weddell seals basking on the flows whilst Fur seals slept on the steep rocky shores. The lone Leopard seals were curious and often played in the boats wash whilst others were intent on catching and eating an Enwary penguin: a gory but fascinating sight.

The often wet and cold weather with choppy seas did not deter the Wellington Boot Brigade, as we became known, from Zodiac rides in search of whales; Humpbacks breaching and Minkes feeding in pools. Successful visits were made to Port Lockroy and other remote outposts of history and science. The past was ever-present in the names of the islands, waterways, bays and mountains which make up some of the grandest and most awe-inspiring scenery in the world. With the way ahead often shrouded in clouds, one wondered how the first explorers must have felt seeing for the first time such a vast and forbidding place. Now it has come to be the haven of peace and unspoiled beauty, to be enjoyed by adventurous climbers and skiers, and by wildlife and photographic enthusiasts alike. For some of us who had spent time in the vast wilderness of the Antarctic interior, it was wondrous to see the abundant wildlife, both animal and plant, which survives the harsh surroundings. As we sailed through the channels and straits, the sun highlighted the many magnificent snow-clad and as yet unclimbed peaks, beckoning us to return.


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