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Ski the Arctic

Polar explorer Doug Stoup leaves today for seven weeks on skis in the great white north. Part of his itinerary includes guiding 15-year-old Parker Liautaud, the youngest person to attempt to ski to the North Pole.
posted: 03/26/2010
Doug Stoup (right) and Kip Garre scout lines from the Zodiac in the South Shetland Islands, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula in November 2009.

“Dream big. Dare to fail.” Those were the last words polar explorer Doug Stoup said to me when we spoke yesterday—words Stoup clearly lives by. Today, Friday, he’s on his way to the Arctic for seven weeks to lead three separate, back-to-back expeditions. “I’ll have one day off between each trip,” he told me.

Stoup, owner of Ice Axe Expeditions, was the dreamer who conceived the Antarctica Ski Cruise I joined last November. To my knowledge, it was the first large-group ski trip to Antarctica. Our ship contained 90 skiers (stay tuned next fall for my feature story on that experience, in Skiing Magazine). He’s also a veteran global explorer whose thirst for adventure has taken him from the Amazon basin to both polar regions, and countless stops in between—not to mention stints as a professional soccer player, model, and contestant on an early American gladiator–type TV show.

For the first of his three upcoming Arctic trips, he will guide 15-year-old Parker Liautaud as Parker attempts to become the youngest person to ski to the geographic North Pole. Parker hopes his expedition will raise awareness of the environmental issues facing the Arctic region. To follow live updates from their trip, become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TheLastDegree.

For the second of his three trips, Stoup will guide Dennis Garcia of Washington, DC, and Jack Ashton of London, England—also to the geographic North Pole. For the third, Doug will lead a group of Warren Miller athletes and cinematographers to the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago north of Norway and east of Greenland. The plan for the latter trip is to film a segment for the 2010-2011 Warren Miller feature film. The Warren Miller crew will be using ski-kites to access big first descents in Spitsbergen’s mountains and fjords.

Having taken part in one of Stoup’s polar escapades, I can vouch for him as the real deal—a passionate skier and outdoorsman who dreams big and has education and environmental awareness at heart. If the thought of exploring the Poles on skis appeals to you, check out the trips he offers at http://www.iceaxe.tv. Spots are still available on his 2010 North Pole expeditions. And next fall, he’s operating three 14-day Antarctic ski expeditions aboard the sailboat Australis—the same ship taken by ski-mountaineer Chris Davenport to Antarctica last November. To check out the trailer for the film Davenport made about his Antarctic ski odyssey, visit http://vimeo.com/9025595. Word has it that Davenport may join Stoup on one of those Australis trips next fall, so sign up now for a berth.   —Sam Bass

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