South Lake Tahoe resident guides ski expedition to Antarctica |

South Lake Tahoe resident guides ski expedition to Antarctica

Autumn Whitney

Todd Offenbacher recently returned from skiing in Antarctica — a trip he’s taken five times. The South Lake Tahoe resident is an employee at Douglas Stoup’s Ice Axe Expeditions, a Truckee-based company that specializes in taking people on extravagant, one-of-a-kind trips.

“The unique thing is I don’t think there’s another company that takes skiers down to Antarctica like this. It’s the wildest environment on the planet — the most isolated for sure. And on this expedition, you’re self-supported.

“People are all over the peninsula skiing on a given day. It’s an incredible way to experience Antarctica,” Offenbacher said.

The two-week excursion departed from Ushuaia, Argentina, and traversed the notorious Drake Passage, known as some of the most dangerous waters in the world. The group landed in Antarctica and spent seven days skiing on the peninsula.

“One thing that’s really amazing, you put these guys together with amazing knowledge, and the people that sign up are interesting and from all over the world. Add to that the fact your phone doesn’t work and the internet’s crap, and you get amazing conversations,” Offenbacher said.

Nearly 100 people embarked on the expedition, a portion of which were guides like Offenbacher.

“The people who sign up to come on this trip are everything from pro skiers to people who are doing their first backcountry ski — in Antarctica,” Offenbacher said.

Each guide has four clients, but often the guides team up to create larger groups. Offenbacher worked alongside guide Chris Davenport, a Red Bull athlete who has appeared in approximately 30 ski movies, in addition to skiing and guiding Mount Everest.

“He’s done several trips [to Antarctica] and we’ve worked together the last few years. It’s an honor for me, because he’s a real badass in ski mountaineering,” Offenbacher said of Davenport.

Davenport, an Aspen, Colorado native, will journey to South Lake Tahoe this weekend to receive the Golden Camalot Award — the honor given out at the annual Tahoe Adventure Film Festival. The award recognizes a leader in action and adventure sports for excellence, achievement and leadership.

“He just skied 54 different peaks in Colorado. Fifty-four peaks over 14,000 feet. Then he skied 100 peaks over 13,000 feet.

“We want to honor the people that have showed risk tolerance. The people who perform at the highest level, but aren’t the people who ski out of avalanches. These are people that have good consciousness of risk in sports, and are drawing attention that being safe is cool.

“Davenport is a two-time world champion, free skiing champion and more. But he’s teaching and promoting that being safe and coming home at the end of the day is cool,” Offenbacher said.

Offenbacher hosts the 2016 Tahoe Adventure Film Festival, which takes place on Saturday, Dec. 10, at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the event, which costs $20 to attend. Purchase tickets and learn more at

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