Sun Valley Trekking guide, Joe St.Onge, has just returned from another truly epic journey to ski in Antarctica. This is the second expedition that we have undertaken with our partners at Ice Axe Expeditions to take skiers down to the icy continent. Each year, Ice Axe has contracted the 330′ Ocean Adventurer to take a group intrepid skiers and guides to explore the fairy-tale mountain landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula. We began this journey with skiing in Tierra del Fuego and then boarded the boat to cross the notorious Drake Passage and made landfall in the stunning setting of Charlotte Bay. Each day we navigated through the icebergs and pack ice of the Gerlastch Straights and found landing points between the precipitous ice cliffs to shuttle the skiers via zodiacs. Once on land, we explored a magical landscape of peaks, massive glaciers and stupendous ski lines. We encountered penguins by the thousands, seals by the hundreds: including close encounters with the elusive Leopard Seals, Humpback Whales and even watched as a pod of 13 Orcas cruised through the massive ice bergs in search of seals! The wild life experience in Antarctica is truly breath-taking!! And the skiing? It was phenomenal! We found snow conditions ranging from perfect corn to legitimate powder skiing. We had 6 solid ski days including 2 days exploring the beautiful peaks on Livingston Island and King George Island in the South Shetlands. This is truly THE MOST AMAZING SKI TRIP on our planet. There is no place more wild, inspiring, stunning to behold and in peril than the continent of Antarctica. If you are a skier and have ever dreamed of visiting this amazing landscape, this is the trip for you. Don’t wait. Drop us a line if you would like to join Joe next year on the cruise, space is limited to a lucky few!
As part of their 11th grade Sawtooth Trip in late September, Community School students helped Joe and Niels prep Bench and Fishhook huts for another busy winter. This is a new addition to the Community School’s Outdoor Program, and we’re so happy to have their help! Led by former SVT guide Patrick Graham, who is now the Outdoor Program Director for Community School, the students helped rebuild the hot tub wood shack at Fishhook, as well as clean both Fishhook and Bench Huts inside and out, stack firewood, and more.
Sun Valley Trekking has had a long-standing relationship with Community School, which rents our huts annually for outdoor education. Students from 4th grade to 12th grade get to experience winter backcountry life in the local mountains with the added support (and fun!) of saunas and hot tubs, kitchens, outhouses, and a roof over their heads. Winter trips range from learning basic winter travel and safety skills at Boulder Yurt in the fourth grade to outdoor winter camping near Fishhook Yurt in ninth grade to avalanche safety and backcountry skiing at Bench Hut in eleventh and twelfth grade. And while Community School students go everywhere from the Olympic Coast to Glacier Park to Canyonlands on school outdoor trips, the 11th grade fall “Sawtooth Trip” is a chance for students to see and value the incredible playground that’s right out their back door here in Sun Valley through climbing, biking, and hiking – and they’re now giving back to that playground by helping us out at the huts.
Over the course of four beautiful fall days, different student groups hiked into either hut, where they put in some seriously hard work, demonstrating solid teamwork and leadership, and then hiked back to their base camp at Redfish Lake. It’s a great chance for the students to see what goes on behind the scenes at these huts they’ve visited many times and we can always use some help getting ready for the busy winter season.
Thanks Patrick and Community School! We can’t wait to see your staff and students in the backcountry this winter.
On the morning of November 9th, 2016 the election in the United States was decided and we boarded a boat heading South from Tierra del Fuego. The Beagle Channel led the way to the great Southern Ocean and the infamous Drake Passage, known for the roughest seas in the world. Our goal was the great white continent of Antarctica, the largest wilderness on the planet and the only landmass not governed by a single nation. We left as skiers embarking on an adventure and returned forever touched by a land of un-imagined beauty and wildness.
Below are selection of pictures from the lenses of Sun Valley Trekking guides: Joe St.Onge and Christopher Marshall. Please click on the upper left photo to click through the pictures in chronological order with captions or simply scroll down to enjoy the collage from this magnificent expedition.