Rick's World

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Antarctica Photos

Home in Tahoe again, we need more snow! Gonna head up to the Pacific Northwest for Thanksgiving, lots of snow up there!

I've posted a few albums of photos from the Antarctica trip on Facebook:

Ski Photos
Wildlife Photos
Landscape Photos

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Few More Antarctica Ski Photos

Hanging around Ushuaia waiting for my flight out this afternoon, eating one last Argentinian Steak (yum!). Thought I'd post a few more photos:

My first Antarctica summit

Even weighing him down with a huge pack full of camera equipment, Andrew, Kip, and the Warren Miller crew couldn't keep up with Brennan, so he joined our group for a day :)

Dan Starr

Myself and Dan half way down our last run of the trip, an amazing couloir down to the ocean

Looking back at the couloir from the Zodiac

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back in Ushuaia

We're back in Ushuaia after a very "lake" like crossing of the Drake Passage which allowed copious amounts of alcohol to be consumed the last couple nights and enough time for us to head over to the Pacific Ocean and see the Cape Horn as we crossed back to the Atlantic. My favorite quote from yesterday morning:

Client: "Isn't there a certain distance you have to stay away from the Cape?"
Lori (expedition leader): "Yes, 12 miles"
Client: "How far are we now?"
Lori: "About 3 miles"

I'll be sorting through the 100s of pictures I took and creating a full trip report as time permits. All I can say is I'm speechless at just how amazing our trip was. The weather was perfect, the skiing was great, the friendships will last the rest of our lives. Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley just pulled off something quite incredible, huge thanks to them and the Quark Expeditions and Clipper Adventurer staff for a true "trip if a lifetime!"

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Antarctica Wildlife

It's tough to describe just how cool it is to interact with the wildlife on Antarctica. These animals have most likely never seen humans before, and for the most part couldn't care less about our presence.

If you look at the bigger version of this pic (click on it) you can make out the fin of a Minky Whale

Penguin Porn!

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A few Antarctica Ski Shots

We're cruising across the Drake Passage now, our streak of amazing weather continues. The trip has been absolutely incredible. Here's a few ski shots from lucky Friday the 13th.

Sean Busby

Rather then follow the other groups straight up from our landing, we headed up the valley and spotted this couloir before anyone else did

Myself in the couloir, it's been skied by 4 people now!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A couple pictures from Antarctica

As often happens in "adventure travel," plans change due to the current circumstances. Yesterday a skier fell into a 35 foot cervasse and broke his leg. Thankfully, the guides were able to extract him and he's doing well now. We are heading up to King George's Island where the Chilean Military will be able to airlift him out (guess we're gonna find how well that rescue insurance works). Not sure the plans after that, there is hope we're gonna be able to get a short ski in this afternoon.

But for now, enjoy a few pics...

The mountain behind me on Anveres Island is about 7000' tall!


Yesterday's ski objective

Fin Whales we saw on the second day of our crossing

It's a tough life for a seal!

Sunset last night

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Skiing With Penguins

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Please don't pinch me, because if this is a dream I don't ever want to wake up!

It's really impossible for me to put in words just how amazing the last two days have been, and my pictures could never do justice to the awesome beauty that is the 7th Continent. We've had beautiful weather the last two days and have had two wonderful days skiing on Antarctica. I've already taken a couple hundred photos but they simply do not do justice to just how amazing this place is. I wish I could stand on deck 24/7 because any time your inside you might be missing something amazing. Last night's sunset was incredible, it actually never really gets dark this far south but the sun does dip below the horizon. WOW!

So, penguins smell pretty bad, but they're so damn cute. Seals seem to have pretty good life, spending most of their time lieing out in the sun. The mountains are HUGE, I'm looking out the window at a mountain that rises 9000'+ feet from the ocean. The 100 or so skiers on this trip could spend the rest of our lives skiing down here and not even scratch the surface.

It's really quite awe inspiring!

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Sitting and Waiting - Final Drake Passage Update

Well, this is very familiar, sitting in the lobby at the Albatros Hotel in Ushuaia waiting to embark. Loading time is set for 3, I've got to run to the grocery store for some snack food and wine, but other then that, ready to go!

Final Drake Passage updates. Looking pretty good, not flat, but reasonable. I'll be putting on the patch on once we get on the ship!

Next update should be from Antarctica!

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Gangs All Here

The trip "officially" started today with our ski groups meeting for some "on snow" time followed by a big dinner tonight, but it's really been going on ever since I stepped out of customs in Buenos Aires and started running into folks from last year's trip. I'm really excited about my ski group. Our guide is Dan Starr from Jackson, WY and our group is myself, in the infamous mono skier Lee "Dooby" from Tahoe, Sean Busby from Utah, and Josh from Denver. Dan is new this year, the rest of us were all on the trip last year and we all seem to be a great match, similar motivation and desires. Today we headed up to the Martial Glacier to practice some roped traveling, glacier rescue, self arrest, and beacon searches.

The skiing on the Glacier has been great too, I headed up yesterday to make some first "real" turns of the year (Boreal WROD just doesn't quite count), a little fresh snow on a nice carvable base.

The energy here is amazing, it's hard to believe, but I'm gonna say even better then last year. Ushuaia is starting to feel like my second home, it's great to see all the people who have returned, and the new additions are fitting right in.

We board the boat tomorrow at 3, so I'll make one more update and then we're off!

BTW, the Drake is still looking "reasonable" if maybe not "lake" like for our crossing :)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Drake Passage Forecasts

Started running into folks from the trip at the Buenos Aires airport and a bunch of us were on the same flight to Ushuaia yesterday. Yes, the Drake Passage forecast is a big topic of conversation! Kevin Quinn seems to think we're going to have 50 foot waves, my sources aren't quite that bad, but looks like we could be in store for some rough seas!

BTW, I've been pulling these forecasts from a great site, PassageWeather.com. Maps and weather, two thing I love!

If things go as planned, we should be leaving the afternoon of the 6th and heading up the Beagle Channel. Sometime that night we hit the Drake Passage, cross the Drake on the 7th and 8th, and reach Deception Island the afternoon of the eight. So, here's the forecasts right now:

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Monday, November 2, 2009

In Ushuaia

After a great weekend in the Bay Area I made it to Ushuaia this evening. I'll post more when I get my computer on the net, I need some sleep now!

Latest wave forecasts looking more like the shake then the lake!!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Antarctica Ski Cruise 2009 Itinerary

Just a few more things to pack, including my white tuxedo for the "White Party on Antarctica," which is gonna have a tough time living up to last year's Halloween party!

Here's our plan for the trip, of course in any adventure travel flexibility is key:

2009 Itinerary

November 5, 2009 to November 17, 2009.

Day 1: Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina. Welcome dinner and orientation. Overnight in Ushuaia.

Day 2: Board the Clipper Adventurer and set sail down the Beagle Channel.

Day 3-4: Cross the Drake Passage. Sperm, fin, and humpback whales, along with skies of seabirds will accompany our journey. Arrive at Deception Island’s volcanic crater on the afternoon of Day 4 for a hike.

Day 5: Ski and trekking objectives at Neko Harbour. Zodiac cruises, penguin rookeries, hiking.

Day 6: Ski and trekking objectives at Anvers and Wienke Islands. Port Lockroy scientific base and museum. Visit gentoo and adelie penguin habitat.

Day 7: Ronge Island/Mt. Britannia. Visit Penguin rookery at Georges Point.

Day 8: Ski and trekking objectives in Paradise Bay. Zodiac Excursions. Visit penguin rookery and Almirante Brown Station.

Day 9: Lemaire Channel/ Mt. Scott/ Mt. Demaria/Mt. Mill ski descents. Visit the Ukrainian Vernadsky scientific station. Killer whale and leopard seal sightings.

Day 10: New ski descents and nature cruises in Crystal Sound; begin journey north in the evening.

Day 11-12: Sail Drake Passage; pass the dramatic cliffs of Cape Horn.

Day 13: Disembark Clipper Adventurer in Ushuaia, Argentina.

*Flexibility is a must for all Antarctic travel. This program is subject to change throughout the journey depending on ice, weather and local conditions.

And the wave forecast now reaches out to our first day (although we should be spending most of day one in the Beagle Channel and hit the Drake Passage on the 7th):

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Better Living Through Chemistry (and a little Accupressure too)??

It seems that the main topic of conversation as you meet new people on a trip to Antarctica (after the typical name and where you're from) is the Drake Passage and what sort of Sea Sickness remedies you've brought with you. I've been prone to some motion sickness in my life, although never really bad, so I'm not taking any chances. I've got:
  1. The Scopolamine Patch - This is a patch you put behind your ear that slowly releases the drug Scopolamine over 3 days. You need a prescription to get it and based on all my research it's the one thing that really works (although the Drake is still known to shake people into sea sickness even with the patch). Many people don't like it because it makes them feel a bit loopy (indeed, I put one on last year before going to bed when we thought we would be leaving over night and definitely felt a bit strange when I woke up, took a moment to figure out the boat wasn't moving). Scopolamine has also been used as a truth serum in the past, so I'm bringing extra just in case :)
  2. Dramamine - Also effective for many people, I went with the CVS version which has the same active ingredient, dimenhydrinate. I skipped the non-drowsy version, I figure if I'm not feeling well, knock me out!
  3. Ginger Pills - Ginger is another common sea sickness remedy that seems to work by settling the stomach. Last year, ginger candies were available on the boat at the drink station. Many people swear by it, other claim it's no help at all. Since sea sickness isn't really a stomach issue, but rather an inner ear/balance issue, ginger may help with the symptoms, but it doesn't seem likely to get to the root cause.
  4. Sea-Band - Another product that many people swear by, and an equal number claim does nothing for them. These bracelets go around your lower wrist and a small plastic nubbin pushes on an acupressure point that is supposed to help relieve nausea and motion sickness. I've had enough luck with acupuncture and acupressure that I'm gonna give it a try!
So, my "sea sickness cocktail" is going to be the patch, bracelet, and ginger as needed. I'll take the Dramamine if the others don't seem to be working, but given what I've read and heard I have more faith in the patch then anything. Should be fun :)

Forecast now reaches out to our meeting day in Ushuaia, check out the big blob of orange and yellow!!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ski Antarctica 2009 - The Drake Passage

Between Ushuaia and the Antarctic Peninsula is the infamous Drake Passage. This is the one place on earth that the ocean currents can circumnavigate the globe unobstructed and thus is known to be the roughest seas in the world. The Drake Passage can be very flat too, so the big question is will we get the "Drake Shake" or the the "Drake Lake?"

So, watching the wave forecast becomes a daily obsession as our trip approaches. We set sail on the 6th and will be crossing the Drake on the 7th and 8th, so the forecast almost extends out to our passage now, a couple more days.

Last year it looked like we were going to be setting out into the "perfect storm" with 60 foot waves in the forecast. While I'm open to experiencing the the "shake," hoping for a little smaller waves then that!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Ski Cruise 2009: Ski Antarctica

One week from today I'll be arriving in Ushuaia for Ski Cruise 2009, take 2 on the ski trip to Antarctica. After last years failure, I'm feeling very good about our prospects of getting down to Antarctica this year. Looking forward to seeing people I met on last year's trip and to making new friends!

The team meets up on 11/5 in Ushuaia for our 11/6 departure. I'm heading down a few days early to get a couple warm up days in skiing the Martial Glacier. Plus, always best to build a few extra days in pre-trip for any travel related delays, luggage issues, etc.

Our approximate route

Ushuaia from the Martial Glacier, 11/3/08

Powder turns on the Martial Glacier, 11/3/08

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ushuaia Weather

One week from now I'll be on a plane heading for Ushuaia!

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