Paradise Bay, Antarctica, Nov. 13, 2011

I'm in a different group today with guide Dan and Greg from Philly and Brian, a snowboarder (splitboard on this trip) from Calgary. The guides have a more complex job here forming groups than on cat/heli trips. Ski ability is likely secondary to climbing ability and fitness and in some cases those abilities are divergent.

We're finally on mainland Antarctica, with a landing at an abandoned Argentine station about 2PM. The Gentoo penguin colony is huge and worthy of some attention before we start skinning.

Many are swimming.

We especially enjoyed what someone called "Penguin D-Day" as numerous Gentoos came out of the water at the same time “storming the beach.”

While skinning up we have a view of the ship and mountains reflected in the bay.

Soon we passed Liz’ new group.

Then we see some people who started ahead of us skiing down.

We stop at the base of a rock about 1,100 feet up and see another group ascending toward the same spot.

Brian snowboarding.

We started at the base of the most prominent rock at upper left. The snow was “cream cheese” powder and skied very nicely as long as you avoided prior skiers’ tracks. After we hit the flats, we put skins back on and ascended a short ridge at looker’s right. While ascending, Andrew McLean’s group came by skiing from higher up. Nice tracks from a snowboarder in his group.

Greg skiing on the ridge.

The ridge rolled over into a steeper line but skiing was a bit tricky as that area had been heavily tracked. We cruised down the more mellow slope toward the landing. Total vertical 1,480 feet. Brian, Dan and Greg.

Skiing just above a line of marching penguins.