Powder skiing the Antarctic: Offenbacher talks latest travels

Adam Jensen
South Shore resident Todd Offenbacher leads skiers on a recent ski tour of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Photos courtesy Todd Offenbacher |

If you go

What: (Arctic) Climbing & (Antarctic) Skiing are Serious

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6

Where: High Altitude Fitness, 880 Northwood Blvd., Incline Village

Tickets: $10


Penguins, leopard seals and orcas aren’t typically part of the ski scene.

Then again, neither is Antarctica.

But the Antarctic Peninsula is ascending the ranks as a premier big mountain destination, and for good reason, said South Shore resident Todd Offenbacher.

The avid climber and skier recently returned from his second ski trip to the loneliest continent, where he guided skiers for Ice Axe Expeditions.

“It was just as good as it gets. Unbelievable,” Offenbacher said during a phone interview last week.

Although he encountered spring-like conditions during a 2012 expedition, this year brought light, windblown snow and clear skies to the peninsula.

“We had good weather and really good snow,” Offenbacher said. “We skied a lot of powder this time.”

Offenbacher was there for almost three weeks and notched mostly first descents with clients, tackling 500- to 1,000-meter descents on up to 50-degree slopes.

The ship-based expedition allows people to have some of the creature comforts of home, a bed and warm meals, while providing direct access to big lines via a Zodiac inflatable boat and ski touring equipment.

“Most everything you’re doing is right on the ocean,” Offenbacher said. “We felt like Navy SEALs on vacation.”

He described traveling to Antarctica as a “super unique experience” and a “dream job.”

The largely untouched nature of the peninsula certainly helped the skiing experience.

“It exceeded all of my expectations going there,” Offenbacher said. “It was the second trip of a lifetime.”

Offenbacher, a Sierra Avalanche Center board member, will discuss his Antarctic adventures, as well as a recent climbing trip to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, at a presentation in Incline Village next week. Proceeds from the event will benefit the center.

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