On February 1, 2022, a fourth-grade elementary school student, Keira Lipp, climbed up and skied down two different sides of a mountain in Antarctica, putting her one continent away from breaking the world record of the youngest person to ski all seven continents.
Keira and her father traveled with adventure company White Desert by plane from Cape Town, South Africa, to Antarctica, landing on an ice runway on thousands of feet of ice. They hiked up a mountain protruding above the ice sheet, skied down one side of the mountain, then hiked up and descended the other side. As they were well south of the Antarctic Circle, although they were climbing and skiing close to midnight, the sun was above the horizon, basking them in Antarctica’s 24 hours of summertime daylight.
They celebrated their accomplishment in an igloo, with Keira’s father having Champagne and Keira having an African Grapetiser. Owing to the cold and the lack of alcohol in her celebratory drink, Keira’s drink froze within a few minutes after being poured.
Having just checked off the toughest of the seven continents, Keira only has one continent left. As long as she skis South America by early August, she will break the world record and become the youngest person to ski on all seven continents. The current world record for the youngest person to ski on all seven continents was set in 2008.
Keira is from Golden, Colorado. She first learned to ski in her home state at age two. She skied with her younger brother on five of the seven continents before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to skiing all over North America, to check off the various continents, Keira skied in Cervinia, Italy (Europe), Thredbo and Perisher, Australia (Australia), YongPyong, and Jisan, South Korea (Asia), and Oukaïmeden, Morocco (Africa). Before Antarctica, skiing in the snowy Atlas Mountains of Morocco was the most remote of the locations around the globe.
To train to ski Antarctica, Keira not only needed to be skiing at an expert level as a ski area skier (which she could do by age seven), but she also had to be comfortable skiing in the backcountry. Far from any ski resort, backcountry skiing means one must climb up to ski down in a mountainous location without lifts, lodges, or ski patrol.
Keira put in many backcountry ski days in Colorado to prepare for her Antarctica adventure. She has skied at least one day every month of the year in Colorado since age seven. During the summer months when the Colorado ski resorts are closed, to ski, Keira has had to hike up and then ski down on Colorado’s small glaciers and permanent snowfields with her father. With one of her primary goals to ski a 14,000’ mountain, in June 2021, Keira successfully climbed and skied Quandary Peak (14,271’) near Breckenridge, Colorado.
Her father, who has a ski patrol and ski mountaineering background, worked with Keira on backcountry skiing and snow climbing techniques and crevasse rescue skills for her to be up for the rigors of chasing the world record.
Keira loves skiing. Besides her goal to ski every continent, which she hopes to finish this summer, she tells everyone her goal is to be a better skier than her dad while she’s still a kid.