Our trip to Antarctica was something that came a bit out of nowhere. Our friends over at Ice Axe expeditions invited us along to capture some footage and show the experience of the voyage alongside myself, Nick Russell, and Elena Hight. Naturally we had to go early. We had heard about riding in Patagonia, and specifically about Ushuaia. Nick being the motivator, we went about a week early to explore the front ranges of Ushuaia. Immediately on arrival we knew we were well into spring but the mountains were towering over the little town perched in the Beagle channel. The resort was closed, but there is so much great foot powered access there that we had no trouble getting into mountains.
Riding Remote Part II: Danny Davis' POV
Taxi rides to the trail heads, and Nick's decent spanish got us picked up at the end of the day. At this time of the year most of the tours started out on dry ground. We got on google earth and also looked up some of the sought after peaks in the area and got ourselves some riding in before we got on the boat to Antarctica.
The voyage to Antarctica takes about three days of cruising. About 2 days of no land in sight. Then, big icebergs start coming into view, and eventually some peaks on the horizon. It was such a rad journey to just hunker down on a boat, dreaming of what Antarctica looks like, and then beyond the water horizon pops up big white formations. As we started to get closer we were running around the ship looking at distant faces. Binoculars being passed around, and excitement beyond belief.
What you choose to ride in Antarctica is different terrain than we would choose in most places. The main objective hazard is holes within the glaciated terrain called crevasses. Everyone is roped up for glacier travel as the the holes are super abundant. Ice Axe guides have been in these mountains before and have routes and runs that they deem safe, and that is mostly what we rode. Rescue is so challenging out in this area, so our choices of terrain and the assumed risk were really conservative when it came to picking lines. We let the guides choose the terrain, as we were not in a position to pick our objectives. In Nick and my opinion, this was the most lavish scout mission we could have ever gotten on. The riding conditions were often corn snow, and the occasional pow pocket lurking in the shadows. We did get to ride one big face, and it was an amazing climb. Almost more fun to climb, than to ride actually.
The beauty of Antarctica is not worth me trying to explain. It goes way beyond words, and feels like a different planet. No connection to my social world other than a sat phone checking in with my fiance to tell her we are doing just fine out in Antarctica.
The Ice Axe crew is amazing, full of bad ass guides, skiers and snowboarders, who have all had amazing careers. In the evenings we would get to learn about their lives and accomplishments in their careers. It is such a different world than I come from. These guys and gals are true mountaineers, have an incredible amount of experience of traveling in the mountains safely. It was a treat to get to spend some time with them, and to be inspired by their adventures and experiences.
Directed and shot by Matt Hardy
Executive Producers: Stein Retzlaff & Matt Hardy
Produced by Doug Stoup, Dan Brown, and Scott Burgess
Athletes: Danny Davis, Elena Hight, and Nick Russell,
Guides: Stein Retzlaff and Andrew Eisenstark
Additional cinematography: Kaya Lampa, Danny Davis, Elena Hight, Nick Russell, and Stein Retzlaff
Edited by Kate Bengston
Writer: Nick Myers
Coloring: Rob Faris