The Top 10 Tips for Beginning Ski Mountaineers

After a 13-day cruise to Antarctica to ski virgin powder with 22 of the world’s best guides, Kim Havell has some advice to share

Seth Wescott

Olympic snowboard gold medalist Seth Wescott looks back

On November 8th of 2011, I departed from Argentina’s southernmost town, Ushuaia, on the 320-foot-long Clipper Adventurer.  Spring had arrived in the southern hemisphere, and I was joining 21 other ski guides for an expedition that would include 100 clients. We sailed across the infamous Drake Passage on the way to a two-week-long journey to explore and ski Antarctica.

As guides to the globe’s toughest terrain, the like-minded crew had an unspoken understanding: skiing in Antarctica is serious business. Leader Doug Stoup held twice-daily meetings about conditions, potential routes, and established safety protocols for each location. The prep and a 1-to-4 guide to client ratio allowed us to access remote couloirs, summit big peaks, and drop onto steep faces with many clients. The constant prep and instruction helped reinforce a number of ski mountaineering rules. I thought it would be nice to share. Here are ten tips for beginners, as told to me by ten of the planet’s best guides, with some inspiring photos from Jim Harris to boot.

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