(Angela Benavides) Mountaineer Ryan Waters is one of the few Americans making headlines in Antarctic skiing, a world decidedly still "occupied" mostly by the Norwegians and Brits.
One reason perhaps for Ryan's polar interest: Norwegian top adventurer Cecilie Skog with whom Ryan traversed 1800 km on Antarctica, from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf, without kites or air supplies in 2010. Following several Himalayan climbs together, Skog is keeping Waters busy these days with a brand new Aluminum sail boat geared for polar voyages.
For some comments about the current anniversary South Pole season, ExWeb's Angela Benavides checked in with Ryan Waters who closed 2011 full throttle on Vinson.
ExplorersWeb: Hey Ryan, the pics on your website show very different environments since your fall climb on Manaslu. Is your life always like that?
Ryan: Different environments indeed. It gets pretty intense sometimes, going from Antarctica, finishing guiding all the Seven Summits with the climb of Vinson, to Norway for skiing, back to the U.S. for business with a quick return to Europe.
Just this month includes sailing the boat down from Portugal through Gibraltar, rock climbing in Spain, guiding a trip on Kilimanjaro, cross country-skiing and training in Norway, and then down to Argentina to meet clients for Aconcagua.
Thankfully all of March will be sailing and climbing in Spain and I am busy planning and training for the Himalayas this spring. Things get crazy but I would not want it any other way.
ExplorersWeb: Had you sailed before? How was it?
Ryan: I have absolutely loved getting into sailing. I always dreamed that it would be my great adventure in life to sail around the world someday, whether joining as crew and learning on a tall ship or on a mono-hull sailboat. So I finally got around to taking some courses this past year and am hooked!
I am lucky to have great options for sailing a pretty incredible boat: Cecilie has a brand new Ovni 445 Aluminum boat with an ice hardened hull. Right now we have been combining the boat with getting to the best Limestone crags in the Mediterranean, but it
is literally built for expeditions to Antarctica or the Arctic. There is plenty of dreaming going on...
ExplorersWeb: Will you be returning to Antarctica? And how was Vinson? Seems crowded compared to the solitude on SP trips?
Ryan: I was quite pleasantly surprised with how nice and calm it was on Vinson. It is one of the Seven Summits so anyone who goes there with thoughts of climbing by themselves should look for another mountain in Antarctica, which there are countless.
My group was looking for something more than the traditional trip only to Vinson, so we went out on skis after our Vinson summit and climbed other mountains in the area of Union Glacier. It really made the trip unique. I think Vinson is extremely well taken care of by everyone involved down there.
ExplorersWeb: Have you heard about the current Antarctic record trips? Any thoughts?
Ryan: It is really cool that several individuals and teams have been out there pushing themselves this season in Antarctica. From what I can see, everyone continues to have great good relations and the polar community tends to be very helpful to each other with information about routes. Best of luck to all the folks still out on the ice!
ExplorersWeb: The feats get much less press than TV stunt Helen Skelton, who claims false records for herself. Is this show-biz killing adventure, or adventure killing mainstream media cred (or neither)?
Ryan: Anyone who gets into these adventures for reasons other than personal enjoyment will quickly discover that, like life itself, it just ain't fair. There will always be people to doubt and question your achievements. We all wish we could get as much press, sponsorship, and coverage.
I think it is very important to be honest with yourself and others about what it is you have done. If you purposely leave out critical information that would clarify the trip for someone who does not know the difference, then it can cause issues with people in the adventure community.
ExplorersWeb: Plans for 2012?
Ryan: I do plan to go to the Himalayas this Spring and Fall. There will also be sailing/climbing in the Med with Cecilie, friends, and Fryd (the boat).
Ryan Waters of Colorado, 38, former mountaineering instructor for Patagonia Outward Bound, has done extensive climbing and guiding work in the Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet as well as the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. He is a veteran of a dozen 8000-meter peak expeditions, including three expeditions to Mt. Everest, reaching the summit of both the Tibet and Nepal sides of the mountain.
In 2005, he launched the expedition guide service Mountain Professionals with Dave Elmore.
2009 - 2010, Ryan and Norwegian Cecilie Skog traversed Antarctica from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf: 1800 km without any air supplies or pulling assistance. Ryan's only previous experience in polar areas was a W-E Greenland crossing.
Last year, Ryan summited Lhotse in Spring and Manaslu (with Cecilie) in fall.
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