‘Mission Antarctic’ expedition blog with Lucas Debari and Xavier De Le Rue

Above Video: Xavier Getting Ready for the Trip

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Lucas and Xavier embarking the boat in Stanley, Falkland Islands. PHOTO: Tero Repo

Lucas Debari: Dispatch 1

It was 9 a.m. when I landed in Santiago, Chile. I had missed a flight and temporarily lost my passport and wallet along the way, so you can imagine how stoked I was to see both of my checked bags come sliding out of the tunnel into the baggage check area. Xavier and the crew had arrived the day before.

At 4 a.m. the next day we woke up and began our travels to the Falkland Islands. With the possibility of setting sail that night, Renan handed out some motion sickness pills that Jimmy Chin’s witch doctor had hooked us up with. An hour later and for the majority of that day, we were all so messed up that none could comprehend each other’s words even when speaking our common language of English. By the time we landed in the Falkland Islands everyone seemed to be coming around. It was a military base that we arrived at, and it was only a matter of seconds before I was being scolded and threatened for taking photos of the camouflaged planes.

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Mellow storm coming in. PHOTO: Tero Repo

The next evening, despite the storm, the captain decided to set sail and begin our voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula.  I was surprised, considering the size of the storm spiral on the satellite, but all we could do was trust our fearless leader. It was only about a half hour or so before we emerged from the protection of the bay and were in the open ocean. Within 20 minutes our entire crew was laying down using every bit of mental focus to not vomit or fall out of our beds in the turbulent seas.

Our captain Jerome is supposed to be one of the most experienced sailors in the South Atlantic, which brings some assurance to my uneasy feelings about sailing across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. What seemed fortunate at the time was a 1000-kilometer-wide storm that was in our sailing path. This gave us an extra day in the Falklands to carefully pack up the boat and get acquainted with our living quarters. Spirits were high at this point as everything was coming together quite smoothly.

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Lucas the fearless captain in 30ft swell crossing the Drake Passage

The next 72 hours were possibly the most miserable three days of my life. I think I left my little nest of a bed for a total of an hour during this time. I managed to put down a bowl of ramen and a few crackers here and there. Renan is in the bunk across from me, and keeps going on about how this is just like suffering on the big-wall portaledge during his epic expedition on Meru the year before.

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This is what 30ft swell looks like on the Drake Passage, mellow right?

Simple tasks like unscrewing a water bottle for a drink seemed to be just as difficult as they were for me at 17,000 feet on Denali. Overall, I was completely over it at this point, the thought of snowboarding on this trip seemed unfathomable, and that wasn’t just me. You should have seen Xavier during this time. He looked like a ghost, vomiting after every bite and barely able to open his eyes. I never saw him move once from his bed. The storm that had granted us an extra day in the Falklands was now pushing us to our very limits of sanity.

Xavier De Le Rue on the Drake Passage “Its like the carnival ride from hell with no
option of getting off”

Every day is a new day, and today we awoke to calm seas and much lifted spirits. Xavier is walking around with a smile, we all ate some pizza for lunch, and are now hanging out together in the living area for the first time since we left the harbor. Trying to write this, I my computer flew off the table when we hit a wave and I made a highlight reel catch.  For me, it is the first time in days that I have had some confidence in myself as well as the expedition. With more open ocean ahead of us, we can only hope that our overall condition will continue to improve.

Thanks for following,


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Force 10 in the Drake Passage. Not the best way to start the trip

Hitting the Drake Above Video

Xavier’s Trailer for the Trip Above

Stay tuned for more updates right here on TWSNOW.com as the trip unfolds