As the ice begins to melt and Antarctica transitions from winter to summer, spring skiing on the Antarctic Peninsular is a rare experience. It may be possible that less people have skied on the Antarctic Peninsular than have climbed Mt. Everest.
Three Mountain Hub Ambassadors, Angela Hawse, Brennan Lagasse and Shane Robinson just returned from this trip of a lifetime where they took Mountain Hub across the Drake Passage and back again, tracking their journey, ski mountaineering in the southern most reaches of the world.
Shane Robinson describes his first trip as “Truly a special trip for all involved, but especially the guides. The remote location and rugged environment provides unique guiding challenges, such as using Zodiacs to access the skiing. It was perfectly timed as a kick-off trip for the upcoming North American winter season. The opportunity to work with 24 experienced guides from around the world and pull off this logistically complicated expedition is super unique.”
Shane used Mountain Hub to prepare for his trip and share his experience with friends back home during the shake down leg in Ushuaia where the expedition set sail. “I tracked our training days on the Martial Glacier above Ushuaia and made snow observations. I was able to look back on last years observations from Ice Axe Expedition’s Ski Cruise to see which maps I should download to work offline. Mountain Hub definitely has the best maps available for the Peninsular, which gave me the confidence I needed to use the app not just for tracking, but incase I needed it to navigate in whiteout conditions. The Mountain Hub App worked so well, it calculated almost 6000’ of elevation change, which in our experience translated to sea sickness!”
Angela Hawse said of her fourth trip, “This was the best trip yet, with fantastic weather, excellent skiing ranging from powder to corn and some of the most intimate wildlife encounters I’ve ever experienced. From Orcas to Weddell Seal pups, Gentoo Penguins to Leopard Seals and more Albatros than I’ve ever imagined it was eye candy everyday. Truly a magical experience shared with like-minded folk who appreciated every aspect and uniqueness of the experience.”
Last year Angela beta-tested Mountain Hub in Antarctica, exposing her tracks as a reference for current guides to find possible exploration venues. This year, she said “I loved being able to take photos of the day’s objectives and having them geo-tagged to her adventure tracks. Even though the feed wasn’t updated publicly everyday, it was viewable on my phone and served as an accurate trip log to document the expedition even before we had wifi access back in Ushuaia.”
Brennan said of his fourth trip, “Every Antarctic expedition is a unique flavor, and this one was special in that I was very fortunate to work with Marco Crolla.” Marco had been on a year long project to ski all the world’s continents while raising money for Pancreatic Cancer research and Antarctica was his final destination. Beyond working with Marco and the joy of getting to experience the unique beauty of the Antarctic, Brennan loved the opportunity to work with other guides. “Everyone’s energy is contagious; each day seems like it can’t get any better, but it does. Maybe a Leopard Seal chases your Zodiac as you cross to shore? Maybe you skin up perfect snow to ski something no one has ever skied before? Maybe there’s a group of penguins watching amongst a field of crystal blue icebergs. Or maybe this all happens in the span of a few hours one morning? A day in the life of the Ice Axe Ski Cruise is like no other.”
Brennan used Mountain Hub to track his daily ski outings in Ushuaia and Antarctica. He also contributed to Mountain Hub’s Data For Good initiative by partnering with citizen science group, Community Snow Observations, to aid in measuring the Antarctic snowpack to help get a better idea of the climate, water record, and ecology of the region. “Getting to experience Antarctica fosters a great sense of advocacy for its protection. The reality of climate change is exacerbated at the ‘poles’ and gaining in-person experience further exaggerates the importance of actions to support transformation of the global dependence on fossil fuels.”
Brennan expressed, “I really enjoyed how I could open my Mountain Hub app every day, discover a GPS signal, and ski while my route was being tracked and overlaid on a map of the area. I could stop to take photos, log snow measurements, and compile information to yield a super useful, multi-functional report. ”
Click here to learn more about Ice Axe Expeditions or sign up for a trip.