Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thanks to everyone

We would be remiss to not thank those people that helped as along our way.



  • Ice Axe Expeditions including Doug Stoup and Karyn Stanley (Organized the Antarctica trip):  www.iceaxe.tv 
  • Kevin Quinn and Allen Riley (our guide) from Points North Heli-Adventures: www.alaskaheliski.com
  • Kris Erikson (hooked us up in Morocco).  His wife runs an NGO in Morocco you should check out:  http://atlasculturalfoundation.org
  • Winston Seiler (our butler) for carrying home loads of our gear
  • All the viewers of the blog for your interest!






Sunday, December 4, 2011

Montreal Pics

Sorry for the delay, but here is the photo evidence for the soggy Montreal conclusion to Ski710.


 Mental note from chairlift: stay to skier's right.  The snow is a bit thin in Montreal
 7 continents of abuse made our jackets all smooth and shiny.  No, wait, that is the pouring rain.  At least we have the exciting lights of Montreal in the background.
 Scott skiing so fast on the wet snow he is a blur.
Thankfully, an orange cone alerts marty to the huge mud hole in the middle of the run.  It's not like the huge, brown patch wasn't obvious.  There was enough room to the sides for 10 turns allowing us to successfully complete Ski710

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Success!

At 8:20 PM on November 27, 2011, exactly 10 days, 5 hours, and 20 minutes since we were last skiing in Antarctica, we skied our ten turns on a warm, rainy night on Mount St. Bruno outside Montreal, Canada fulfilling the accomplishment of skiing all 7 continents in 10 days.


Thanks to Madpatski for the tip on Mt. St. Bruno after we discovered Mt. St. Sauveur was closed.  We are hungry and tired, and will post pictures of us sopping wet tomorrow. 

Six continents down, and North America is providing the glitch!

With a four-hour layover in Morocco (we got up at 3 am today), we decided to check the conditions at our final stop in Montreal.  To our surprise, Mount St. Sauveur has very little snow and therefore canceled night skiing this week preferring to close at 4 pm.  Our flight unfortunately arrives at 5:30 pm.  So, we have two plans in place.  First is a very heartfelt (or begging) email to the resort to see if they will allow us to ski after they close (I was thinking to ask blog followers to email the resort with their support for us, but decided to not inundate their inbox).  The second is to take a later flight to Houston on Monday so we can ski Monday morning.  The drawback to plan B is that we end up skiing all seven continents in 10 days, 18 hours.  Don't worry, I likely won't change the blog name to Ski710.75!  Stay tuned as to what happens!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Africa: Check

We had a very early start to the morning heading into the riskiest continent of th trip: Africa.  To our  surprise Africa turned out to be the best snow and most amazing cultural experience of the trip!  We left our hotel in Geneva at 4:45 AM to catch the flight to Morocco. Other than a painfully slow line at the passport control in Morocco, everything went well.  We met up with our contact, Ayoub, at the airport.  He had a guide and driver ready.  We owe a huge thanks to Kris Erickson whom we met on the Antarctica cruise for setting this up in such short time.  I will write a separate posting on his wife's charitable organization here in Morocco.  We drove up a narrow, winding road perched on the edge of a near-vertical valley wall into the Atlas Mountains and Oukaimeden, a primitive ski area.  With incredible luck, a winter storm dumped 12-18 inches of powder two days ago and because it is early in the season, the lifts were not able to transport skiers (although they could take people without skis to the top).  I figured this was a prime time to bribe but it didn't work, and instead Scott and I enjoyed a 1.5 hour skin to the top.  The view was incredible of the snow-covered Atlas mountains, and the red-rock valley and distant plains of Marrakech all available to absorb.  The turns down weren't just some of the best of the trip, but some of the best skiing we've ever had.  The snow was a perfect powder giving us insanely smooth and predictable turns.  It was truly a unique experience to know this was Africa at its best for skiing.  At the bottom we had enough time to give our guides some quick lessons in skiing before heading back down to Marrakech.  Back in town we went to the old center square of town, which has one of the largest, craziest, and oldest trading markets on the planet.  Tens of thousands of people wandered narrow alleys in search for bargained deals.  We enjoyed dinner overlooking the square before heading back for some sleep.  We get up at 3 am to head to Montreal for the final stop!


 A Moroccan village on the way to the mountains
 
 Scott not totally enthralled by all the snow on the mountains...for once.  

This ass won't get out of our way!  

Two languages on the sign and we are still clueless.  The ski lift in the background does not accept one critical component: skis (by government decree!)
 Marty on top of the world in Africa!
 Obligatory banana holder picture

 Scott rockin' the African powder!
 Yep...knee deep in the stuff making Marty look like a hero...for once.  
Later that night, we explore the central square in Marrakech.  Imagine this scene stretching for miles in a maze of alleys and stairs and rooms. 
    Oukaimeden , a primitive ski area

Friday, November 25, 2011

Europe: Check!

The morning started at 4:45.  We packed everything up and headed to the train station to start the three-hour journey to Zermatt.  It turns out trains seem to be designed for people who carry onlysmall luggage when they travel.  We are carrying a double ski bag whcih is big enough and heavy enough to double as a body bag.  After lifting the bag into a train car, trying unsuccessfully to shove it under the seat, I decided wot look down the train for a solution and found it in a car designed to hold bikes.  Two hours later we were in the town of Visp and transferrnig to a seond train.  This was actually a partial cog train designed to climb some impressively steep grades to get into Zermatt.  Another hour along a steep and rugged valley and gorge, and we arrived in the beautiful town of Zermatt.  The other trouble with a monster ski bag: finding a locker big enough to store it for the day.  We managed to find one in the train station and hiked up to the lift.  Along the way, we spotted Zermatt's most well-known landmark: the Matterhorn.  Zermatt in one large and incredible ski area.  We took a gondola up for nearly 30 minutes.  It just kept gaining elevation!.  By 10 AM we made our ten turns to qualify for Europe.  We then spent the next four hours tearing up groomer runs, taking gondolas to crazy locations, and had lunch in Italy.The end of the day was another mad scramble to catch the train to Geneva.  We noticed how we are always scrambling to make the train or the flight, and then have to sit on the train or plane and do nothing for the next several hours.  Next up:  we leave at 5 AM for Morocco!  Five down...two to go!
 Cog train to Zermatt
 An oxymoron?
 First views of the Matterhorn
 Scott taking some turns on the Italian side (you can tell because the Gondola looks like a Ferrari!)
 Marty in the foreground.  Boring Matterhorn in the background.
 On the border with deciding which side to ski.
 "This place is huge!!!"
 The Alps go on forever
Scott obscuring the sun with the fine snow!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Asia: Check!

Navigating to today's ski location proved more difficult than we anticipated.  First we had to take a train.  From the station, we had to boot it in to our first turns.  The map wasn't as helpful as we had hoped.  The familiar "you are here" red star was there, but everything else was in Arabic.  We looked for familiar landmarks in the landscape and slowly was able to figure out where to go.  Finally we arrived: the weather was a cold 23 degrees Fahrenheit; the coldest we've faced the entire trip.  We arrived early to attempt to make the first tracks of the day.  Our gamble paid off with hundreds or maybe thousands of square feet of fresh groomed corduroy.  We were to make the first turns of the day!  


Enthralled?  Good...because I just did my best to describe indoor skiing.  At 10:15 AM Scott and I made our turns in Dubai capturing our Asia as our fourth continent!


 Looking for signs from above to find the good ski runs
 Scott booting up some of the steeper ascents
 Reminders of Antarctica loom all around us
 We are getting close!
The neon blue is a nice touch!


 Scott pulling some great turns in the fresh groomed surface
 Marty aggressively hitting one of the steep sections
 Scott, the banana protector, and indoor skiing.  As the sign suggests, what more do you need?!
 Taking in the scenery
Here's to you, Winston!