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Ski Antarctica

Overview

Chimu Adventures, the most diverse Antarctic operator, are proud to bring you this incredible sail and ski adventure to Antarctica, join us to ski pristine slopes, seek virgin terrain and, if conditions allow, attempt to climb unique peaks, revelling in an extreme ski experience on this incredible continent.

Not only will you see and experience the dazzling landscapes and incredible wildlife of Antarctica but experience it from an intimate purpose-built yacht, before getting onto the slopes and skiing Antarctica for yourself! As you will be one of only five guests on this comfortable expedition sailing yacht, our small group will have the freedom and flexibility to tailor make this bucket list travel adventure!

From skiing untouched mountains in Antarctica to sea kayaking amongst ice and penguins you’ll be immersed in the grandeur of a natural environment like no other place on earth.

This is not an adventure of a lifetime for just anyone. Only real Adventurers need apply!

Participants must have a reasonable level of fitness, be capable of skiing blue or black runs in resorts and must undertake some prior training in roped glacier travel and crevasse rescue. (see the 3 day add on package in Ushuaia https://www.chimuadventures.com/argentina/ushuaia-discovery). Team members must also be equipped with an ‘expedition mentality’. This is no package cruise this is a true travel adventure! Team members are invited to help in sailing the yacht, take a watch at sea and generally muck in with chores around the yacht from anchoring to domestic duties. Everyone is a team member. In return you will have the satisfaction of Rounding the Horn on our way back to Ushuaia, knowing that you have really earned it! If you haven’t sailed before you’ll be given instruction and come back a seasoned Southern Ocean sailor and Antarctic skier!

The following Itinerary is a typical plan, however in the Antarctic, plans can and often do change due to weather and ice conditions. The Antarctic Peninsula is a wonderful cruising ground with a smorgasbord of tiny coves and shallow anchorages where one can enjoy the magnificent solitude of one of the remotest places on Earth, while watching close-up the antics of the local inhabitants - curious leopard seals, playful humpback whales, or frenetically busy penguins. We have the freedom to get out in the hills and ski virgin snow slopes under the guidance of our experienced Antarctic Mountain Leader. 

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: ACTSSKA

Location: Antarctica

Ship: Icebird

CRUISE ITINERARY

Come aboard, meet the crew, stow your gear and take in the briefings before we set off to sail down the spectacular mountain lined Beagle Channel in relatively calm water. Your Captain and crew will have been carefully watching the weather for a few days prior, so we may either visit an anchorage to wait.... or we may head out into the Drake Passage to commence our 560nm ocean passage, where landfall will be the snow, rock and ice of the Antarctic Peninsula. We are sailing the "furious fifties" with landfall in the "screaming sixties", but thankfully modern weather systems aboard Icebird enable us to negotiate the deep lows the Drake Passage is legendary for. Often we are able to choose weather windows that provide a safe, comfortable and fast passage across and you’ll find that with the routine of watches at sea, the time passes quickly.

Icebird is a tough purpose built aluminium high latitude expedition yacht with creature comforts like central heating and a climate controlled pilot house that allows you to take in the 360 degree views while insulated from environmental extremes. Her powerful Aerorig, a freestanding rotating carbon rig, facilitates fast, simple and exhilarating sailing, an exhilaration matched by the soaring flight of the albatrosses as they lift off the wave tops and soar above the yacht. As we arrive at the Antarctic Convergence, our albatross companions leave us. There’s a definite chill in the air, and excitement mounts as we start to look for our first iceberg.

Sailing the Drake - Days 1 to 3

High jagged peaks, overhanging seracs, huge glaciers dropping newly formed icebergs into the ocean...... and everywhere life abounds in this icy paradise. Perhaps your first impressions of Antarctica will make you feel that you have entered an alternative reality! ...and that impression will be amplified as we sail into a volcano! As we enter Port Foster on Deception Island through the narrow Neptune’s Bellows, the sunken caldera opens before us and we sight the remnants of what was once a bustling whaling industry at the turn of last century, with fleets of whale catchers and factory ships anchored in the harbour and more than a few interesting anecdotes and shenanigans to relate!

Landfall in Antarctica

We land on the black volcanic sand beach where steam rises eerily and habituated penguins enjoy a warm bath! Skinning up the snow slopes rewards us with stunning views of the sea cliffs and “Sewing Machine Needles” rock formations.....and the incredible sight (and smell!) of penguins as far as the eye can see. Deception Island is home to half a million chinstrap penguins.

Time to SKI !

We make an early start in the Antarctic dawn, threading our way back through Neptune’s Bellows and out into the Bransfield Strait. We head south for Two Hummock Island, sailing through iceberg littered waters and dodging humpback whales. On arrival we tuck into a tiny cove surrounded by towering ice cliffs and tie the yacht securely in to rocks on shore.

Two Hummock Island

A morning of spectacular skiing up both summits with views over to the jagged mountain range of the peninsula. In the afternoon we pick up our lines and make the short sail over to Portal Point on the mainland, where we lift the keel to make our way into a shallow anchorage and tie in securely for the night.

Portal Point

Today you Ski the Seventh Continent with an ascent of Igloo Hill and a fast ski back to the yacht. Perhaps an afternoon kayak among grounded icebergs, seals and penguins.

Ski the Seventh Continent

We sail south through Wilhelmina Bay, dodging humpbacks, and make a ski ascent of Spigot Peak, a dramatic rock spire, flanked by a snow slope behind. The exertion is rewarded by unbelievable views ranging from the interior mountain chain of the Antarctic Peninsula, across the Gerlache Strait to Brabant and Anvers Islands. Evening finds us tucked into another shallow anchorage on Cuverville Island which is home to a frenetically busy gentoo penguin colony.

Wilhelmina Bay

Today we sail to Paradise...Harbour! - a spectacular cruise down Errera Channel which you may paddle if you wish, then across the head of Andvoord Bay into the eastern arm of Paradise Harbour. Again the keen paddlers are invited to take to their boats and paddle through this beautiful waterway which often affords close encounters with humpbacks, seals and penguins...even orcas sometimes! It’s a favourite spot for pods of orcas to hunt the crabeater seals lazing on floating sea ice.

We tuck into tiny Skonthorpe Cove for the night, a small amphitheatre in the ice cliffs and a favourite of the old Norwegian whalers who frequented these waters 100 years ago. The sense of tranquillity and overpowering majesty of the towering peaks is often broken by the roar of avalanches or cracking and crashing of ice falls as Avalanche Glacier continues its inexorable advance into the sea. As we go exploring in the zodiac or kayaks, it’s wise to be prepared for waves generated by the massive chunks of ice falling into the sea. Interestingly, the towering ice cliffs are actually floating on the sea as an ice shelf.

Paradise Harbour

Today’s objective is Mt Banck. As we skin up the 970m mountain we negotiate our way between deep crevasses and get a chance to peer into their mysterious neon blue depths. From the summit it’s a fast ski back to the waiting yacht, visible as a few pixels far below.

Mt Banck

An early morning start and we head to Bruce Island for a 3 hour 400m ski ascent with the reward being a fabulous ski back to the zodiac.

Bruce Island

We take a brisk sail across the Gerlache Strait to enter the Neumayer Channel and as we make our way down this narrow cut between Wiencke Island and Anvers Island we’re likely to see orcas who often range through this beat. Tonight we tie ourselves into the ‘Ice Marina’, the vestiges of winter sea ice which fill Port Lockroy at this time of the year. Using ice screws and other anchors we tie the yacht securely alongside the ice and enjoy some true ski in ski out yachting from ‘Base Camp Icebird’.

Base Camp Icebird

We drop our skis straight off the yacht onto the sea ice and skin over to the tide crack from where we ascend onto Harbour Glacier and traverse across to the base of Jabet Peak. A three hour climb rewards us with spectacular views, Thunder Glacier to the north with the Fife Brothers range towering above, and across the Neumayer Strait snowy Mt Francais, the highest peak on the peninsula at 2760m, rises majestically above all else. A fast ski down to traverse the glacier once again, and back home to Icebird.

Jabet Peak

A morning visit to historic Port Lockroy Base better known as the Penguin Post Office where the United Kingdom Heritage Trust has carefully preserved the historic base dating from 1944. Port Lockroy was pivotal to the early days of exploration and of fascinating Operation Tabarin, a secret wartime initiative to counter Nazi intelligence. The carefully preserved artefacts, even tins of food and antiquated risqué paintings of 1940’s temptresses, contribute to an acute sense of time warp. For the afternoon - a quick ski over to Dorian Bay and a visit to another historic hut which was used as a refuge for ski plane operations to Port Lockroy in the 1970’s.

Port Lockroy Base

We untie from the Ice Marina and as we steam towards Canty Point on Anvers Island the team prepares for a 3 day ski tour to Minaret Peak. This is your chance to experience Antarctic snow camping and the near 24 hour daylight with spectacular sunsets that merge into sunrises and keep the mountains glowing pink for hours.

Minaret Peak - Day 16 & 17

After three days in the mountains, the ski team breathes a sigh of relief as Icebird appears amongst the icebergs and the smell of fresh baked bread and delicious food wafts across to those waiting for pick up on the beach! After a hearty meal, back aboard base camp Icebird, a brisk sail across the Gerlache Channel takes us to Cape Reynard and the entrance to the famed Lemaire Channel where the dark waters of its narrow channel are overhung by precarious seracs and snow cornices that make us hesitant to sail too near the rocky cliffs.

We tie ourselves into a tiny rock-pool at Port Circumcision on Petermann Island where the French explorer Charcot spent a winter on the ‘Porquoi Pas’ in 1909. From our anchorage we can study Mt Scott directly across the Penola Straits, although much of its ascent route is hidden from view.

Lemaire Channel

A day to explore Petermann Island and the resident Adélie and gentoo penguin colonies. Perhaps a circumnavigation by kayak.

Petermann Island

We make an early start, land our gear and crampon up the initial ice slope to easier snow slopes. If conditions are right this is a 4-5 hour climb, and from the summit the yacht and climbers can see each other! Those who prefer sea kayaking can explore nearby Pleneau Bay often known as The Iceberg Graveyard where currents and shallow water combine to trap and break up the ice monoliths. It makes for interesting sea kayaking, when the spectacle of hundreds of tons of ice grinding on the sea floor is likely to explode into fragments. So it’s wise to observe the rules relating to iceberg approach!

Ascent of Mt Scott

Ice conditions permitting we head south down the Penola Straits, which were named by Australian John Rymill of the winemaking family when he led the British Graham Land Expedition in 1932. A fascinating story of success and competence, and perhaps ‘The Expedition’ which marked the post heroic age of polar exploration. We thread our way into the rocky maze of the Argentine Islands, home of the ex-British base ‘Faraday’, now Ukrainian “Vernadsky” where the original instrument used to establish the existence of the ozone layer hole is proudly kept, and atmosphere research continues to this day. Often we are invited to join the scientists for an evening of merriment. For the afternoon, nearby ice cliffs provide an excellent opportunity to try out an ice climb with technical ice axes and top ropes. The kayaks are also deployed to explore the maze of islands and grounded icebergs.

Vernadsky

We take a morning visit to Wordie House, a well preserved historic hut harking from the days of the British Graham Land Expedition, and we spend the afternoon preparing the yacht for sea.

Wordie House

We head out through French Passage into the Drake and set our course and sails for Cape Horn 600nm to the north. As we cross the Convergence the air temperature warms, layers come off and a turn on deck to watch the albatrosses is very inviting.

Cape Horn and Land ho! As we round the Horn the obligatory bottle of whiskey comes out.... a toast to King Neptune and the rest for the crew! Perhaps we’ll land and visit the monument which evokes the souls of lost sailors, with its interesting sculpture that sings hauntingly in the wind.

As we sail through the Cape Horn Archipelago and into the Beagle Channel, the verdant green magic of Patagonia with its lush Antarctic beech forests, sun dappled mountains and cascades will delight senses accustomed to sea ice and snow.

Cape Horn - Day 23 to 27

A return to relative civilisation, but Ushuaia’s claim to ‘el Fin del Mundo’ will leave you sceptical, as like most people who travel to Antarctica, you will be forever haunted by the landscapes and thriving inhabitants of ‘that other world’.......that lies to the south, bound by ice but rich in life.

Ushuaia
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Important Information

  • All yacht charter costs
    All necessary port fees and permits.
    All food aboard the yacht and while ski mountaineering (except dehydrated meals).
    Group climbing equipment, tents, sleds for multi-day trips and fuel.
    Yacht Skipper, Mate and Expedition Leader an Assistant Leader.
    Use of 3 Boreal single kayaks and one Boreal double kayak, drysuits and associated safety gear.
    The use of the yacht’s short range VHF Radios for shore parties to yacht communications.
    Access to yacht satellite phone and email facilities (usage fees apply).
    Group medical and emergency survival equipment for the sailing component.
    Yacht safety equipment.
    First aid equipment and emergency survival kit for shore party activities.
    A limited amount of beer and wine (1-2 drinks per evening meal when not sailing).
    Expeditions sailing to/from Antarctica: Three nights cabin accomodation in Ushuaia - 2 nights at the start, one night at the end.
    The expedition fee does not include:

    Air flights or ground transport to the departure point of the sailing voyage.
    Personal clothing and equipment.
    Meals and drinks in Ushuaia or Punta Arenas.
    Personal travel, travel cancellation, medical and rescue insurance.
    Emergency rescue, evacuation or medical charges.
    Personal medications.
    Personal use of satellite communications equipment.
    Cost of visas for Argentina or Chile, vaccinations, excess baggage, airport taxes or departure taxes.
    Alcoholic beverages (although a limited amount of local beer and wine is provided).
    Freeze dried meals for multi-day ski-mountaineering trips.

  • 4 (Good fitness level required)
  • Available upon request

  • **Please note that this is a sample program only and is subject to ice and weather conditions**

    Contact us for more details

  • Season and availability

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

GUIDANCE FOR VISITORS TO THE ANTARCTIC

RECOMMENDATION XVIII-1, ADOPTED AT THE ANTARCTIC TREATY MEETING, KYOTO, 1994

Activities in the Antarctic are governed by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and associated agreements, referred to collectively as the Antarctic Treaty System. The Treaty established Antarctica as a zone of peace and science.

In 1991, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties adopted the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which designates the Antarctic as a natural reserve. The Protocol sets out environmental principles, procedures and obligations for the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment, and its dependent and associated ecosystems. The Consultative Parties have agreed that as far as possible and in accordance with their legal system, the provisions of the Protocol should be applied as appropriate. The Environmental Protocol was ratified in January 1998.

The Environmental Protocol applies to tourism and non-governmental activities, as well as governmental activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area. It is intended to ensure that these activities, do not have adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment, or on its scientific and aesthetic values.
This Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic is intended to ensure that all visitors are aware of, and are therefore able to comply with, the Treaty and the Protocol. Visitors are, of course, bound by national laws and regulations applicable to activities in the Antarctic.


PROTECT ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE

Taking or harmful interference with Antarctic wildlife is prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.

Do not use aircraft, vessels, small boats, or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land.
Do not feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, or approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behavior. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or molting.
Do not damage plants, for example by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes.
Do not use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife.
Do not bring non-native plants or animals into the Antarctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.


RESPECT PROTECTED AREAS

A variety of areas in the Antarctic have been afforded special protection because of their particular ecological, scientific, historic, or other values. Entry into certain areas may be prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by an appropriate national authority.
Activities in and near designated Historic Sites and Monuments and certain other areas may be subject to special restrictions.

Know the locations of areas that have been afforded special protection and any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near them.
Observe applicable restrictions.
Do not damage, remove, or destroy Historic Sites or Monuments or any artifacts associated with them.

RESPECT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Do not interfere with scientific research, facilities or equipment.

Obtain permission before visiting Antarctic science and support facilities; reconfirm arrangements 24-72 hours before arrival; and comply with the rules regarding such visits.
Do not interfere with, or remove, scientific equipment or marker posts, and do not disturb experimental study sites, field camps, or supplies.
BE SAFE

Be prepared for severe and changeable weather and ensure that your equipment and clothing meet Antarctic standards. Remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous.

Know your capabilities and the dangers posed by the Antarctic environment, and act accordingly. Plan activities with safety in mind at all times.
Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, both on land and at sea.
Take note of, and act on, the advice and instructions from your leaders; do not stray from your group.
Do not walk onto glaciers or large snow fields without the proper equipment and experience; there is a real danger of falling into hidden crevasses.
Do not expect a rescue service. Self-sufficiency is increased and risks reduced by sound planning, quality equipment, and trained personnel.
Do not enter emergency refuges (except in emergencies). If you use equipment or food from a refuge, inform the nearest research station or national authority once the emergency is over.
Respect any smoking restrictions, particularly around buildings, and take great care to safeguard against the danger of fire. This is a real hazard in the dry environment of Antarctica.

KEEP ANTARCTICA PRISTINE

Antarctica remains relatively pristine, the largest wilderness area on Earth. It has not yet been subjected to large-scale human perturbations. Please keep it that way.

Do not dispose of litter or garbage on land. Open burning is prohibited.
Do not disturb or pollute lakes or streams. Any materials discarded at sea must be disposed of properly.
Do not paint or engrave names or graffiti on rocks or buildings.
Do not collect or take away biological or geological specimens or man-made artifacts as a souvenir, including rocks, bones, eggs, fossils, and parts or contents of buildings.
Do not deface or vandalize buildings or emergency refuges, whether occupied, abandoned, or unoccupied.​​