When Hell Froze Over
Author: Gerber Ambassador Keith Ladzinski Keith on Instagram
Endorphins of gratitude are filling my body, and for good reason; I can finally see base camp. It’s 2 miles out and I get a surge of energy and start skiing harder. Both of my feet are covered in blisters, most of which are bleeding and filling up my socks. It’s been 5 very long days of harsh weather during a circumnavigation of Antarctica’s Wolthat Mountain Range. Our method of transportation has been cross-country skiing and crampons when the ice was too steep and wind blown to skin across. I’m eager to cut loose the 90 pound sled I’m been towing, to lean against the ice walls of “home” with a sip of whiskey and a warm meal. It’s Thanksgiving, 2012, and a holiday I’m unlikely to ever forget.
As I get closer to base camp I’m noticing that something looks very different, it seems smaller, and the closer I get seemingly non-existent. It doesn’t take long to realize that it’s because camp has been wiped out. Catabatic winds have ravaged our 6 foot perimeter walls burying everything we have, this isn’t good. I arrive to find Mike Libecki and Freddie Wilkinson already hard at work, digging out the broken tents and excavating anything they can salvage. It’s 9:00pm, and this night wont be over anytime soon. I’m faced with an immediate dilemma, which is to either document the event, or grab a shovel and dive in. Rule one of being a camerman is that you know you’ve failed if you’re witnessing a key moment with your bare eyes and NOT through a lens. So I start shooting. I’m here with fellow shooter and friend Cory Richards. We’re on assignment for National Geographic and these are the moments that matter, and the truth is that these are the moments we’ve been hoping for.
It isn’t long until the cameras are put away and we all attack our personal archeology assignment, digging up the necessary, rebuilding walls as quickly as possible and finding the necessary supplies, one of which is a bottle of whiskey. We all take a couple pulls and laugh about what just happened. With 30 more days ahead I know that this is a taste on my palette that I’m going to be getting used to. It’s Antarctica after all; unforgiving and unexplored. It’s the adventure of a lifetime and one I’ll never forget.