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Destination Antarctica: The Blue Drink

Destination Antarctica: The Blue Drink

[ November 2, 2009 - 10:42pm ]
blue drink
Drinking a gaudy margarita among football fans on the way to Antarctica, and ski-mountaineering's celebrity quarterback.

It’s the afternoon of November 1, 2009 and I’m killing time for a few hours in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport before my 10-hour flight to Buenos Aires. I ducked into a joint called Blue Mesa Taco y Tequila Bar to order a house marg (I can expense this, right?) and watch Favre’s first post-Pack match at Lambeau Field. There’s a lot of guys around me, football-watching guys, and the electric-blue concoction you see pictured is what the waitress brought me. I drain it before the guys notice and order a manlier Texas-brewed Shiner Bock.

But the blue drink is a sign, I realize. The last time I was this close to a such a cobalt cocktail was in Salt Lake City with ski-mountaineering badass Andrew McLean. A group of us was scarfing Mor-Mex food at Barbacoa restaurant and McLean ordered a bright—and I mean glowing—blue drink. If it made him question his manhood, like my own blue drink just did, he didn’t show it. McLean’s a wiry, scrappy guy whose list of global ski-mountaineering exploits is far longer than any of the Packers first-half drives and whose manliness far outshines that of the bloated meatsticks in Cowboys’ jerseys to my left and right. I’ll see Andrew in about 48 hours in Ushuaia, Argentina, before we board the boat to Antarctica. After that, my plan is to spend a little more than a week climbing and skiing with Andrew and a few dozen other backcountry skier form around the globe.

I was supposed to ski Antarctica with Andrew on this trip last year, before it was cancelled. We got as far as Ushuaia, where we boarded our ship, slept on it for a few days at the pier, and then got off after the trip was cancelled due to mechanical problems. Andrew was to be our group’s guide last year, and during our pre-trip training in the mountains above Ushuaia, one of the other group members, an Army vet named Scott Fennell from Saco, Maine, confided in me that he was “so excited to be able to ski with Andrew,” who was, as he said then, “the Tom Brady of ski-mountaineering.”

He captured the excitement all of us were feeling about this opportunity to ski with such a star of the sport, but to think of Andrew as someone with the same kind of star power as an NFL hero underlined the fact that Andrew’s accomplishments, however spectacular, go largely unnoticed by mainstream America—even that part of mainstream America that skis.

OK. That blue marg is kicking in. Time to sign off.  —Sam Bass

Skiing Magazine Senior Editor Sam Bass is heading to 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

blue drink

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