Vinson: First Turns on the Branscomb

Posted by: | January 13, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

Skiing in Antarctica is not something I ever really thought I would do. I’m not sure anyone on our team thought they would get the opportunity for that matter.

But, this morning, the sun popped out from behind Vinson, bringing the temps to a reasonable level (perhaps zero?) and dropping the wind. A quick breakfast, some coffee, and we geared up to begin the day.

Our first foray was onto a small slope just above basecamp with some big crevasses and seracs. The team made some great turns in marginal snow, and had a lot of fun. By late afternoon, the sun had moved around, casting great shadows on some nice, big terrain across the valley from us. Splitting up, Peter, Caroline, and Seth went down to skin up a nice rib on the shoulder of the Branscomb, while Kent and I cruised up another hill to get in position to shoot.

Having shot only a little skiing before, I turned to Kent to help choose the right place to shoot. A veteran of many big ski shoots, he’s quite the expert…the only difference being here in Antarctica there are no helicopters or Ski-Doo’s to move us from place to place - only our own power.

So, we set up on a beautiful ridge, looking across an enormous valley with long shadows of the team skinning into position. Eventually, on cue, they dropped down some 1,000 feet, kicking up beautiful snow into the low, evening light. By then, it was 8:00 PM, and time to skin an hour back to camp and make dinner.

Only a couple of runs for the day, but the scenery, conditions, locale, and team couldn’t be beat. We’re all excited for tomorrow.

RMI Guides Seth, Peter, and Caroline skin up past a massive crevasse above Vinson Base Camp to make the first turns of the trip.  Peter Whittaker gets after it with Vinson rising behind. RMI Guide Seth Waterfall carves a nice turn in beautiful snow a couple of miles from Vinson Base Camp. Peter, Seth, and Caroline, tiny specs in a big landscape on the Branscomb Glacier about 2 miles below Vinson Base Camp.

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