Summit Station, Greenland
Snowless hometown got you down? Tired of your rollerskis, rock skis, all those pine needles in your klister? Feeling hostage to climate and geography? FasterSkier is good about showing the farther-flung elements of our sport, as well as summer and early snow options but perhaps you can’t quite afford a trip to Silver Star or the Snow Farm?
If you pursue contract work through the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs (as many skiers do), it is possible to train in good conditions nearly any time of year. The NSF maintains research stations in Greenland, Antarctica, and other high-latitude regions, most of which are home to numerous fitness skiers, and often a disillusioned racer or two. We may lack fresh fruit, flora, and femalesâ€”but there is always plenty of snow.
I’ve been just a year in this line of work, but I've made it to a few of these places, and skied with the locals whenever possible.
McMurdo Area, Antarctica
I hope these pose a counterpoint to David Gardner's 2003 classic XC Antarctica. Sure, the conditions can be tough, but they can also be lovely. Ross Island is always gorgeous, and it is home to the two largest ski eventsâ€”December's Cape Evans Ski and January's McMurdo Marathonâ€”on the continent. Such a bleak assessment is contrary to the spirit of the experience.
South Pole Station
Backcountry on 15,000ft of snowpack at the West Antarctic Divide â€” skateable in every direction, as far as you could ever go, over ground no human (save the camp's skiers) has ever touched.
Late July tracks here at Summit Station. Pretty typical polar conditions: hard, fast, chilly; boring terrain but a bomber view. We just received a half inch of bone-dry powder on our 6 miles of groomed skiway, making for somewhat less than the usual rocket-fast conditions and spoiling the temporary sprint course around camp. No one is complaining.
(Photo: Kathy Young)
Sorry for the low res â€” bandwidth is one sacrifice, and certainly not the only one.
The program is definitely not for someone who wants a serious winter of
racing (you'll likely miss the entire race season in some
godforsaken icy place, you've got to work all the time, good hills are
all too rare…). But if you're a little bored with your short winter
and lackluster local trails, perhaps start at www.usap.gov.