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Antarctica: So Hot Right Now

Antarctica: So Hot Right Now

[ Wed, 2010-09-29 12:31 ]
Penguins
Chris Davenport and two friends head south (really far south) to play with penguins, sleep on a ship, and ski some steep terrain. His film, Australis: An Antarctic Ski Odyssey, chronicles their journey.

When I think of Antarctica, I think of ice, cold weather, and more ice. However, more and more skiers are adding an Antarctica notch to their belt: Warren Miller also filmed a few athletes here for their upcoming film, Wintervention. Last December, Chris Davenport, Stian Hagen, Andrea Binning, and a film crew went south to give movie-making and glacier-climbing a shot themselves. At The Meeting in Aspen, we were given a chance to see a sneak-peak, short version of Australis: An Antarctic Ski Odyssey. Here’s what I thought.

Traveling to Antarctica takes a while— first, you have to fly deep into Chile or Argentina. Then, you climb on a boat (in this case, the 23-meter Australis) and head even further south. You’ll pass icebergs and sea lions as you make your way to the Antarctic Peninsula. Davenport and crew gave themselves 28 days to explore this terrain, which has seen only a handful of expeditions. They skinned, ice climbed, and bootpacked their way up slick glaciers to ski some of the most pristine winter terrain around.

Major props to the crew for hiking all that way, but it sure looked icy (I guess Antarctica is like that). Davenport was used to it, though, after skiing all of Colorado’s 14ers, and Hagen and Binning have ski mountaineering experience themselves. The crew donned crampons and harnesses to climb straight from the boat before they were even on snow. When the conditions were right, they’d skin to the top and enjoy the descent. But often, they boot-packed their way up, ice axes in hand, and made jump turns on bulletproof snow. The team summitted Duseberg Buttress and Mt. Mill, and attempted to climb and ski Mt. Shackleton before bad weather drove them away.

Also notable was the stunning landscape. The scenery in the flick is incredible. Sparkling blue waters lap at protruding glaciers, while penguins dip and dive through the icy currents. As much as Australis: Antarctic Ski Odyssey is a ski flick, it’s got a little National Geographic flavor to it. And who doesn’t love penguins?

Australis: An Antarctic Ski Odyssey premieres September 30, 2010, at the Boulder Theater, in Boulder, CO. From there, it will tour around the country, with stops in Jackson Hole, Stowe, Boston, and Tahoe. Visit AntarcticSkiOdyssey.com to find the stop near you.

Australis: An Antarctic Ski Odyssey from Granite Films Jim Surette on Vimeo.