Jones Ambassador Geraldine Fasnacht crossing South Georgia island. Photos - Bertrand Delapierre
Honored to share a special trip report from an esteemed new Jones Ambassador. We are thrilled to begin working with the legendary Swiss snowboarder, base jumper and wingsuit flyer Geraldine Fasnacht. Geraldine is a veteran competitor with 11 Freeride World Tour wins to her name including 3 Verbier Extreme titles. She retired from competition in 2010 to focus on base jumping and expeditions.
In October 2014 Geraldine set sail for an incredible snowboarding adventure honoring the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s pioneering crossing of South Georgia island off the coast of Antarctica. Geraldine and her team followed Shackleton’s route from Elephant Island to South Georgia island and then retraced his infamous footsteps by traveling 50 km across the island on splitboards and skis. After completing the crossing they went on to establish first descents on other peaks.
Read on for images from the expedition and thoughts from Geraldine about the epic journey:
On October 4th we set sail from the Ushuaia Harbor at the tip of Cape Horn on the Austrailis, a polar expedition sailboat. We were a team of nine, most of us from different backgrounds including a scientist and two soldiers. There were three primary objectives for the trip: trace Shackleton’s route from Elephant island to South Georgia island and across, gather scientific data about polar ocean currents and glaciers, and if conditions allowed, climb and ride virgin peaks.
Crossing the Drake Passage to Elephant island took us three days. The seas were very rough so it was a tough crossing for me. Reminded me that water is not my element…
Arriving at Elephant island we were greeted by fantastic Southern Lights and incredible wildlife. The wind died slightly allowing us to take a boat ashore and make our first turns of the trip on huge glaciers that poured down into the ocean.
After a couple days on Elephant island we set sail for South Georgia island. The rough crossing took us four days. Shackleton and his men did the crossing in 16 days.
Upon reaching South Georgia we prepped our gear for an immediate attempt at crossing the island from West to East. After launching into the mountains for one night, bad weather forced us back to the boat to wait out the storm. We spent the next two days riding steep couloirs that end at the beach while waiting to begin the crossing again.
With a clear forecast, plans were made to leave early the next morning. Bertrand the photographer and I left the boat at 3am that next morning with the intention of climbing and riding a beautiful virgin face on Trident Mountain before we continue the crossing with the rest of the team.
That morning brought the most beautiful weather we had seen since the beginning of our trip. The views were impressive as we could finally see all the mountains around us. At the bottom of the face we switched to crampons as the face was long 1000 meters and steep 50°degrees. The ambiance was fabulous climbing up next to big ice flutes. At the top we could see from one side of the island to the other. Dropping in the snow was perfect as it had stuck to the ice layer underneath.
At the bottom of the run we met up with the rest of the crew and skied another 20km before we set up camp for the night. That was a big day!
The next morning we completed the traverse to the Grytviken fjord and rode a couloir down to the boat. The quick crossing left us hungry for more adventure so we set sail south to the Sandwich Islands. We sailed for another three days during which we helped Zoe the scientist collect ocean current data.
Bad weather cleared just as we arrived at the Sandwich Islands allowing us to go onshore and ride the Zovadoski volcano. When we landed on the beach all the penguins were playing and surfing on the waves. The snow was hard and icy but the views were so special that we didn’t care about the bad snow conditions. We were on top of a volcano in the middle of the Southern ocean surrounded by seals and penguins - truly a dream.
But every good time has to come to an end and that meant sailing back north to the Falkland islands. The seas were once again rough which made the seven day crossing the hardest part of the trip for me. Whale watching made it a bit nicer but I have never been so happy to stand on flat ground when we finally docked the Austrailis.
This teaser video narrated in French shows live action and riding footage from the expedition. The full-length film by trip leader Luc Hardy is entitled “’The Pursuit of Endurance - On the Shoulders of Shackleton” and premieres this March 27 and 29 at the Bow Tie Cinema in Greenwich, Connecticut. More info on the event here:
Follow more of Geraldine’s adventures in the mountains here: