Doug Stoup and Mark Sedon are among the world’s most accomplished polar ski explorers. They bring years of unmatched knowledge and experience to the EYOS team, helping to share the world’s most extreme destinations with guests. For our ongoing Staff Spotlight series, we spoke with Doug and Mark about their Antarctic adventures and what about the place continues to call them back.

Can you introduce yourself and explain your journey to guiding with EYOS in Antarctica? How did you get your start in expedition travel and what are some of the trips you’ve led with us?

DS: My name is Douglas Stoup. I have been lucky enough to pioneer skiing in the Antarctic Peninsula for over two decades. I started visiting the Peninsula in spring of 2000 and have been back for 38 ski expeditions to the Peninsula. I proposed to Tim and Ben that we offer ski touring off the yachts as an activity. They liked the idea and had seen incredible potential too. Together, we worked on the permitting for heli-assist ski touring and we have been pioneering this activity for 5-6 years. I have been directly involved with about a dozen yacht trips and the appetite for these types of activities is getting stronger for EYOS clients.

MS: I’m Mark Sedon, a Kiwi mountain guide residing in Wanaka, New Zealand. I’ve spent my life exploring the world’s most remote ski and climbing locations. From avalanche forecasting to mountain rescue, several hard first ascents and ski descents, to crossing Antarctica with kites and skis. I started expedition work for a Seven Summits company and eventually guided all of the peaks. My first trip with EYOS was the first ever permitted helicopter-assisted ski touring in Antarctica. Since then I’ve led most of the ski trips involving helicopters, skiing, and Antarctica. It has become my specialty and I love the exploratory nature of the challenges and the problem-solving that this activity involves.

Your combined accomplishments in Antarctica are exhaustive – running a marathon to the South Pole, summiting the highest peak, skiing across the continent from coast to coast. Of this wildly impressive list, what has been the most rewarding for you both?

DS: Wow… I have led over 58 Antarctic trips with 4 crossings from the coast to the South Pole, but probably the most rewarding was leading Aron Anderson, a Swedish paraplegic sit skier from the coast to the South Pole in 2018. We traveled over 400 miles in 24 days. We also raised over 2 million Euros for childhood cancer!

MS: Personally my 60-day, 2,000km kite ski crossing of Antarctica was the most rewarding. It was ‘hard as nails’ and challenged me in every way. Professionally skiing a 1200m first ski descent with guests on an EYOS trip from the back of the yacht Legend was the most rewarding. Seeing the shared stoke in the guests’ eyes and appreciation is awesome!

Photo courtesy of Mark Sedon

Antarctica, and the interior specifically, is arguably the most extreme place on earth – highest, driest, windiest, and coldest. What were the most challenging conditions you’ve faced on an expedition and what did you do to overcome them?

DS: I have had many challenges on my expeditions. On an expedition in 2007-2008, while skiing from the Filchner Ice Shelf to the South Pole, I happened to fall into a few crevasses. This expedition covered 737 miles in 47 days!

MS: We got dropped near the South Pole, at 3,000m, early in the season and within a few hours got slammed by a 4-day storm. Temperatures dropped to below -60 C/F and we battered to keep the tents standing in 40 kt winds and blowing snow. It was raw survival and the start of our 60-day expedition. Sure was a good way to get to know your expedition teammates! You could feel the water freezing in your eyes between blinks and the skin would have frozen within 30 seconds!

What is it about the Antarctic (and polar regions in general) that draws you to adventures like these?

DS: For me…It’s the pristineness and cleanliness and to be walking in the footsteps of turn of the century explorers…

MS: I love the remoteness, how clean and untouched by humans it remains even today. There is so much yet to be explored and thriving in the environment is just so natural. I love it!

Photo courtesy of Doug Stoup

Packing for such intense expeditions must be a challenge in itself. For efficiency’s sake you have to keep your packing list short, but are there any extraneous items from home you can’t go without that you bring with you?

DS: Planning and preparation lead to success. I am pretty much a minimalist when it comes to packing extra stuff. I cut my toothbrush in half and cut labels out of my clothing just to save a few grams.

MS: Dilmah tea, eye patches, music, down booties, a pillowcase, a little single malt, and a big sense of humor!

Where did you look for inspiration when pioneering skiing in the region? Were there any explorers, books, or movies that captured your interest in the place?

DS: When I was 13 years old I read Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance by Alfred Lansing. He has been a hero all my life!

MS: Stories of Amundsen, Scott, and nature shows on TV have all been a major influence.

Photo courtesy of Mark Sedon

What do you think sets EYOS apart from other operators in the Antarctic?

DS: EYOS has always been the best in class. EYOS offers trips of a lifetime that no one in the world can deliver! I am proud to work for this company and what we can offer clients! Experience unmatched and able to deliver extraordinary unforgettable trips!

MS: Quality of yachts, the experience of guides, the less popular regions visited, environmental care, and attention to detail.

You’ve already broken boundaries and pushed the limits more than most. What’s next? What expeditions are you looking forward to with EYOS?

DS: I am truly looking forward to continuing building the ski product and EYOS has a Greenland Heli-Ski Trip with Bode Miller and Chris Davenport this April!

MS: Returning to Antarctica to ski and helicopter-assisted ski tour with guests. Personally sailing 1200 nm north to Fiji in my yacht this year!

To join Doug and Mark on a Heliski adventure, contact EYOS at [email protected] to inquire about upcoming trips to Greenland.

Photo courtesy of Doug Stoup