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Destination Antarctica: Filming with the Warren Miller Crew

Destination Antarctica: Filming with the Warren Miller Crew

[ November 16, 2009 - 7:16pm ]
The master Tom Day
After the Zodiac ride and the fornicating penguins, there is a day of skiing and shooting with the Warren Miller cameramen and a team of athletes. Sam Bass checks in from the south pole.

On Wednesday night, we anchored in the lovely crescent-shaped harbor of Half Moon Island, home to a large chinstrap penguin rookery. In the yellow light of evening, I boarded a Zodiac with the Warren Miller film crew and sped among icebergs, observing Tom and Colin as they filmed the athletes scoping tomorrow’s lines.

Thursday morning saw Doug Stoup, me, and the Warren Miller crew (cinematographers Tom Day and Colin Witherell, and athletes Kip Garre, John Morrison, and Andrew McLean) landing at 7 AM on Half Moon island to visit with the chinstrap penguins. Kip, John, and Andrew had great fun trying to locate fornicating pairs of amorous birds and shout encouragements to them from a distance. After Tom and Colin shot footage and gathered audio of the athletes among the penguins, we took the Zodiac to nearby Livingston Island, home to a nearly 6,000-foot peak. Attempting that would have required more time than we had in the day, and as it was also quilted with crevassed glacier and draped with seracs, we left it alone. Instead, we looked for smaller, more manageable ski objectives.

To attain the glacier from the beach, we use crampons and axes to get up over a 60-degree snow ramp that led up between dramatic blue ice ramparts. I hadn’t actually been on skis with Doug Stoup before now, and it was great to see him off the ship and away from the trip’s daunting logistics, having momentarily shed the mantle of expedition leader, simply smiling and skiing. We were able to hike and ski a few pitches before responsibilities called Doug away again.

The rest of the day we spent skiing shoulders, faces, and ridges with dramatic, film-friendly backgrounds, as chosen by the master Tom Day. Watching Tom work is really something. The guy never stops looking for the perfect shot and keep his athletes running until they literally beg for mercy. The day ended 12.5 hours later, after we rappelled with skis on back to the beach where our friendly Zodiac driver waited with a cold beer for each of us.

Back on the boat, eyeing our lines from the ship’s dining hall windows, we tuck into ribeye steaks at a white-tablecloth dinner and toast to another incredible day on the world’s best ski trip. Stay tuned for Friday and Saturday reports.  —Sam Bass

Skiing Magazine Senior Editor Sam Bass is in Antaractica for an 18-day ski-mountaineering trip. You can follow his journey—and watch a video interview of him before he took off at

The master Tom Day

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