Alpine Club of Canada

ACC Gazette Summer 2019

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Le Club Alpin du Canada | Gazette | été 2019 7 By Nancy Hansen ACC Ambassador Nancy Hansen and her husband, Ralf Dujmovits, are no strangers to adventure. From spending five weeks in a hypoxia chamber for science (ASPECTS, May 2018), to a lightweight attempt on Everest from the north (ASPECTS, April 2015), Nancy and Ralf are ready for anything alpine. So, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that they would jump at a chance to hitch a ride to the bottom of the world and make it their honeymoon to boot! How exactly does one hitchhike in Antarctica, you ask? It's complicated, interest- ing, and not quite impossible. W e could scarcely contain our excitement when we opened an email from our Australian friend, Damien Gildea, asking if we would like to join a six‑week expedition by sailing yacht to Antarctica. All we had to do was help get a ski group and their gear up to the Antarctic Plateau, back down again at the end of their traverse, and provide rescue services if needed. While they traversed, we could use the yacht to explore, ski, climb, and play with penguins and whales. Though the timing of the adventure would turn it into our honeymoon, we contemplated the opportunity for all of ten minutes before replying, "Yes, please! We would like that very much!" The journey south While crowding onto a 17‑metre yacht with eight strangers and crossing one of the wildest stretches of ocean on the planet might not be everyone's idea of a romantic honeymoon, it was certainly memorable. After the three‑and‑a‑half‑day crossing of the Drake Passage, we arrived in perfect weather at the traverse team's starting point. They were a group of six adventurers from around the world with varying degrees of experience: Australia, France, Belgium, Canada, and England. With Ralf coming from Germany and the yacht's assistant from Spain, we had quite the international team! We spent the next seven days moving hundreds of kilograms of gear 35 kilo‑ metres and almost 2,000 metres up to the plateau. Before setting out, Ralf and I had looked doubtfully at the Nordic skis half of the group was wearing, but assumed they knew what they were doing. That was before the group reached a short, hard‑ packed, descending slope. At that moment we discovered that three of the partici‑ pants had spent a bit of time at ski hills, but had no experience going downhill on Nordic skis, let alone with giant sledges in tow. As they side‑stepped and butt‑slid down the 50‑metre high slope after Ralf and I took their sleds, I shuddered to think about the 2,000 vertical metres we would descend with them in two weeks' time. After saying our farewells and giving our best wishes to the group, we zoomed back to the yacht in a day, ready to begin the next part of our adventure. We next motored south along the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula coastline— it was time to look for something to climb or ski. We arrived at the aptly named Paradise Bay and decided to stop for a ski ascent of Mt Hoegh (890m). Our ski tour took twice as long as it should have due Hitchhikers' Guide to the Antarctic Above: Towing sleds under Mt. Cornu (1,714 m). | Ci-dessus : Transport des luges sous le mont Cornu (1 714 m). Photo Nancy Hansen

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