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Border Crossing: Notes from Afar

Border Crossing: Notes from Afar

[ November 12, 2009 - 4:43pm ]


Skiing Mag Editor, Sam Bass about to drop in to ramp on Weincke, 1st run, ship in  



Penguins, skiing couloirs, and an Antarctic survival story.

It’s around 4 PM on November 11, and we’ve just pulled out of a harbor where a couple of passengers disembarked at a Chilean Science base. We’re now on our way to Half Moon island, where we’ll visit a large penguin rookery, sleep for the night, and spend tomorrow skiing the slopes surrounding Mt. Flora on Livingston Island. After that, our plan is to round the Trinity Peninsula, which is the very end of the Antarctic peninsula, head due south through the Antarctic Strait and into Erebus and Terror Bay.

[ November 11, 2009 - 2:24pm ]
Close up in Ushuaia
Skiing Magazine senior editor Sam Bass has been reporting from a ship at sea off the coast of Antarctica, where he's been hiking and skiing 50-degree peaks with a crew of other skiers. A sixth grader from Virginia wanted to know if Sam has built a snowman, gotten swine flu, or skied a six-black-diamond run. Sam answers her questions here.

Tyler Smith is a sixth grader from Portsmouth, Virginia. Her class has been following Sam's journey to Antarctica aboard the Clipper Adventurer, a ship carrying 70 skiers. Tyler e-mailed Sam to ask a few questions, which Sam answers here.

Tyler: I hope you aren’t afraid of heights. How steep do you expect the mountains to get? Compared to a ski resort, would they be like 6 black diamonds in a row (really hard and really steep)?

[ November 11, 2009 - 1:54pm ]

The locals assured us there hadn't been any Maoist violence in this area. Guess blowing up an airport doesn't count.

In Nepal, the word "airport" means a small concrete building that had its head blown off and insides ripped out by Maoist bombs four years ago. In the case of four ski mountaineers trying to make it home, this is their only way out.

We had budgeted eight days to get from our remote base camp back to Kathmandu, which seems like a safe allowance as we set off on a 4,000-foot climb to begin the hike out. However, when we arrive a day early in Chainpur, some curious news awaits. The road we'd taken in from civilization a month prior was destroyed by 11 serious landslides two days after we passed through in brilliant sunshine. Obviously the 30 years it took to build the road was not enough to contend with four days of rain.

[ November 10, 2009 - 4:33pm ]
Swany's Rising Star Glove
Made from renewable bamboo charcoal, the Rising Star is a good, lightweight pick for females blessed with warm hands and fingers.

It’s no wonder cowgirls use leather for their chaps, boots, and gloves. The stuff lasts forever. My last pair of leather ski gloves lasted four seasons. Even female superheroes prefer leather product (think Kate Beckinsale’s boots and pants in Underworld). I recently tested Swany’s Rising Star, a women’s glove with a leather exterior that’s compact and moisture absorbent.

[ November 10, 2009 - 3:34pm ]
A Kodak Moment
After a tumultuous couple nights at sea, the Clipper Adventurer reaches a new continent: Antarctica. Following that, writer Sam Bass takes the most scenic ski runs of his life.

Check out photos from this leg of the journey here.

[ November 9, 2009 - 5:59pm ]
Clipper Adventurer
Sam Bass, aboard a ship en route to Antarctica, on avoiding sea sickness, royal albatrass, and Cape Horn.

I haven’t gotten seasick yet, even though our ship, the Clipper Adventurer, is currently crossing the notoriously violent Drake Passage. It’s 10:16 PM on Saturday, November 7, and we’re somewhere near the Antarctic convergence—the zone where the cold waters surrounding the Antarctic continent mingle with the slightly warmers waters of the southern oceans.

[ November 6, 2009 - 7:59pm ]

Jamie Laidlaw puts his edges to use while skiing down toward the Seti River.

The mission: Ski a big, bad hunk of Himalayan rock. And do so without as much as a slip. Because here, deep in Nepal a day's walk from the nearest human being, the consequences of a mistake are too high to even think about.

Check out photos from this journey here.

[ November 6, 2009 - 1:05pm ]
Post-tour beers in Argentina.
Keeping up with the Warren Miller Crew and preparing for Embarkation, the moment we've been waiting for all week (and all year, for those of us who were part of last year's aborted attempt).

To check out a photo gallery from Ushuaia, click here.

[ November 4, 2009 - 5:42pm ]
Awful Awful
On day 26 of a ski-mountaineering expedition to Nepal, the crew takes their first turns. Writer Devon O'Neil likens this to how a bear must feel when he finds his first unlocked dumpster after a winter of hibernation.

Acclimatization is a serious component to Himalayan skiing. Luckily for us, the process isn't nearly as complicated when your tallest objectives are 19,000 feet instead of, say, 26,000, the coveted 8,000-meter neighborhood. But you still need to let your lungs know they're about to be working with less.

[ November 4, 2009 - 5:29pm ]
First Ski Tour of the Trip
Views from the plane, poaching a guides' meeting on glacier travel, and warming up the ski legs after a summer off. Sam Bass reports from his journey to ski in Antarctica.

This is going to be a quick one, as I’m about to miss the taxi up to the glacier above Ushuaia, where I’m going to eavesdrop on a guides’ meeting. They’ll be discussing such things as roped glacier travel and client relations in anticipation of the Antarctica phase of this trip. There are about 20 guides in all, working for Doug Stoup and Ice Axe for the price of passage to Antarctica and the opportunity to ski in a place few have skied before.