- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katie Bono
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Cody Doolan
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Thomas Greene
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Tim Hardin
- Mike Haugen
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Erik Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Logan Randolph
- Tyler Reid
- Dave Reynolds
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mike Tomlinson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Maile Wade
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Posts for Vinson Massif from 01/2011
Hey there, Pete Whittaker and the First Ascent team checking in from the ice still at Vinson Basecamp. We woke up this morning to clouds and very cold, icy fog. And this ended up being our second day of being unable to move. We’re pretty much tent bound all day today. We were talking about comparing it to being inside a freezer with the door just slightly cracked so that the light is on all the time, 24 hours of day light down here. So very, very cold and just a lot of tent time today. And that’s the story. We have adjusted our plans a little bit because of the weather. Forecast is still for possibly more clouds tomorrow. We were looking for an unclimbed peak closer to the Vinson Massif and I think now we’re changing our plans. We’ve identified a couple objectives that are closer to the Union Glacier camp and the runway, dealing the weather and all the backups due to this strike in Punta Arenas. And the people that need to be moved around with the planes. Also because it is the end of the trip we’re just adjusting our objective here a little bit. So we hope to get out tomorrow and have a twin otter drop us on a peak closer to Union Glacier, and we’ll see how that goes. We’re two weeks tomorrow on the ice, you know, everybody’s trying to keep the spirits up. Getting towards the end of the trip, we’re all getting a little bit weary of the cold and the ice but hanging in there and hopeful we can fly and finish off the end of the trip. Everyone is healthy, everyone’s doing well and getting a lot of horizontal time in the tent. That is the report for today and we hope to talk to you from a different location tomorrow. And we’ll talk then.
Peter's update from Vinson Basecamp
Low Clouds and Grounded Planes
We all awoke this morning to a strange thing: warmth. All of us were sweating in our sleeping bags, and a quick unzip of the tent door explained the phenomenon. During the night, low clouds had marched across the continent, swamping the Sentinel Range in a mire of moisture, and bringing the temperature up noticeably.
After some coffee to get us moving, Peter set off to check in on flight possibilities with the ALE staff nearby. A quick radio call confirmed what we all suspected: No flights today. We’d be spending at least one more day at Vinson Basecamp.
There are certainly worse things to have happen; Vinson Basecamp is not a bad place to be stuck in a fog-bank. But, we all are a bit bummed as it would be nice to be moving to a new location and prepping for a new climb. Climbing, however, is often an exercise in patience, dealing with forces which are not only uncontrollable, but also tend to punish the impatient.
So, today, we sit, Kent and I shoot, and wrap up production loose-ends. We also took some time to pore over our map of the Sentinel Range, looking for potential peaks to check out via Twin Otter when the weather clears. Again, there are worse things; soon, the weather will again clear, and we’ll be off to the next step of the journey.
Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue.
We had high hopes of being able to fly today. After several days of protests and road blocks in Punta Arenas the crew was ready to load the plane with gear, food and more expedition members and fly to Union Glacier. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen due to a broken fuel pump. It may be a few days before it can be fixed and the jet is back in the air.
The food and accommodations here are great and we are all doing well.
RMI Guide Ed Viesturs
Hi there, it’s Peter, checking in from Vinson Basecamp, today is January 15th. And it’s about 1:20 PM. We woke up this morning, we had a great ski day yesterday, and we’re hopeful [to fly] to one of our objectives an unclimbed, unskied peak. But the weather moved in and we are in a very cold, icy fog now with zero visibility. And so everybody’s kinda shut down and it looks like it’s gonna be tent time all day and just chilling and taking it easy and resting up a bit. We’ve been on a pretty, oh, not hectic schedule but we’ve been doing everything or a lot of things everyday so it’s kinda nice to have a rest. Forecast is not great for tomorrow, but we’ll see what happens. And we’re hopeful that we can get a twin otter plane out of here. We’ve got a couple great objectives about 10 minutes south on the way back to Union Glacier that we’ll look at from the air and think that they would be prime possibilities for doing some skiing. And we hope we can land right by them. That’s the plan and R&R today, iPods in the tent, and reading and just kinda taking it easy. And hopefully that changes tomorrow and we can we can get going with the rest of our trip. That’s it for now, and we’ll talk soon.
Peter Whittaker gives team's update on the RMI team's rest day
Beautiful Lines in a Sea of White
We had another stellar day today in the peaks off the Branscomb Glacier a couple of miles from Vinson Basecamp. There seems to be endless ski opportunities in this area - not surprising since we’re on a continent almost entirely covered in snow and ice. But, what has been surprising is the quality of the snow we’ve found.
Often, we’ve heard, the conditions for skiing here in the interior are marginal, with variable crust and massive patches of rock-hard, blue ice covered by a thin veil of snow. Hit one of those with some speed and you’re down for a home plate slide. Fortunately, some wind events recently, combined with the uncommon snowfall of early season, have created great conditions around Vinson Basecamp.
Today, we moved again to the beautiful ribs outside of camp in the late afternoon when the sun gets low and backlights the whole area. Peter, Seth, and Caroline skinned up to a great location below a terrifyingly big cornice; fortunately, their position was well-protected by a hug bergschrund just below the cornice, and gave safe access to good terrain below.
We all had a great 4 hours shooting under the low-Antarctic sun with perfect snow conditions. We skinned back to camp by 9:00 PM, had a stellar dinner, and started organizing gear again. Tomorrow, our Twin Otter arrives midday. We’ll fly around Vinson for a bit, and then go off scouting for an unclimbed and unskied peak. With luck, the 16th will find us in new territory on an untouched peak in the Antarctic.
RMI Guide Seth Waterfall checks in after a ski day in Antarctica
After the climb David, Cindy, Ben and I said goodbye to our climbing teammates and boarded the Twin Otter at Vinson Basecamp. We flew to Union Glacier, the hub of ALE’s antarctic expeditions, we had only spent a few hours here on our way into Vinson Basecamp due to the great flying weather. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case on our return. The weather is good for flying but a strike in Punta Arenas, Chile, our next destination, is preventing the Ilyushin jet from making it’s way to pick us up. We aren’t alone.. several teams are sitting in Punta Arenas waiting to start their Antarctic adventures and just as many teams are here waiting to return.
Hopefully we will be in the air soon.
RMI Guide Ed Viesturs
Skiing in Antarctica is not something I ever really thought I would do. I’m not sure anyone on our team thought they would get the opportunity for that matter.
But, this morning, the sun popped out from behind Vinson, bringing the temps to a reasonable level (perhaps zero?) and dropping the wind. A quick breakfast, some coffee, and we geared up to begin the day.
Our first foray was onto a small slope just above basecamp with some big crevasses and seracs. The team made some great turns in marginal snow, and had a lot of fun. By late afternoon, the sun had moved around, casting great shadows on some nice, big terrain across the valley from us. Splitting up, Peter, Caroline, and Seth went down to skin up a nice rib on the shoulder of the Branscomb, while Kent and I cruised up another hill to get in position to shoot.
Having shot only a little skiing before, I turned to Kent to help choose the right place to shoot. A veteran of many big ski shoots, he’s quite the expert…the only difference being here in Antarctica there are no helicopters or Ski-Doo’s to move us from place to place - only our own power.
So, we set up on a beautiful ridge, looking across an enormous valley with long shadows of the team skinning into position. Eventually, on cue, they dropped down some 1,000 feet, kicking up beautiful snow into the low, evening light. By then, it was 8:00 PM, and time to skin an hour back to camp and make dinner.
Only a couple of runs for the day, but the scenery, conditions, locale, and team couldn’t be beat. We’re all excited for tomorrow.
Hello everybody, this is Peter checking in with First Ascent/RMI ski team here at Vinson basecamp. And we just finished a fantastic day of skiing. We transitioned yesterday from the climb into skiing today and we went out and skied some shoulders and glacial areas right on the side of the runway here at Vinson base. And in the morning had a nice session and kinda got our ski legs under us and testing the snow and the slopes. This afternoon we went over, down valley a couple miles and off to some shoulders and planks, to the south and the snow was unbelievable. Two – three inches of some of the most beautiful, most sparkling snow that I’ve ever seen and we had just a great afternoon/ evening. We got back to camp at about 9 PM. Once again, Jake’s going to try and push out some images to show you what I’m talking about, but it was surreal and just an amazing ski day today, a beautiful snow in the most beautiful place in the world. And almost spiritual really, really, nice and so we’re all stoked. We’re back in camp and finishing dinner and then gonna hit the rack. Tomorrow will be one more day of skiing here and then we’ve got the maps out and we are plotting to find a piece between here and Union Glacier and we’ll take the twin otter probably day after tomorrow to get up in the air and look around for just the perfect mountain that is unclimbed and unskied. So that’s our plan. All is well here. Everyone’s healthy, happy, and really stoked about the turns we got today. We will check in with you tomorrow. And everybody have a good evening and we’ll talk soon.
Peter describes the team's first day of skiing
After many days of going without much of a stop, we took a good rest day today.
It started off wonderfully, with Caroline cooking up a good batch of bacon and powdered eggs - darn good down here in Antarctica.
After that, there was much gear sorting, drying gloves and socks and other items in tents under the warm sun. And, for Ed, Cindy, David, and Ben, packing in
anticipation of a Twin Otter coming to ferry them down to Union Glacier this afternoon.
At 5:00, we finally heard the low-pitch whine of propellers coming over Vinson, and caught sight of the Otter flying in after picking up two scientists on the other
side of the peak. A powdery landing on the glacier, and two Ski-Doo’s were offloaded to make room for our team. Before long, the Otter was in flight again; Ed, Cindy,
David, and Ben are back now at Union Glacier, awaiting an Ilyushin flight on to Punta Arenas.
Peter, Seth, Caroline, Kent, and I are settling in, eager to begin the next phase of our Antarctic journey: ski. Tomorrow, we’ll sniff around VBC a bit, ski some
lines, get a feel for the snow, and scour our maps for less-tracked terrain for the days to come.
Much fun awaits…
Hey everyone, this is Peter Whittaker calling in from Vinson Base Camp. It’s about 7 PM and I’m on the runway here. We have a Twin Otter just touching down right now behind me, you’re going to hear it. It just flew from Union Glacier and is coming in to pick up Ed and Cindy and Dave and Ben to take them from Vinson Base Camp back to Union Glacier. The rest of us are going to stay here and start the ski portion of our trip. [It’s] beautiful today, it actually warmed up a little bit, probably somewhere around 0. This plane is a Twin Otter, we’ll see if Jake can push a picture out of it. It’s just taxiing in right now and is going to pull up next to us. These guys are going to load on get back to Union Glacier and, hopefully, get back to Punta Arenas with the Ilyushin this evening as well. I’m going to keep talking here, just a little bit longer as this thing taxis in. The Twin Otter is capable of holding twenty people and a bunch of bags. It’s pretty impressive to watch these things land on the glacier here. [Pause] And he is just starting pull around over here. We will probably end this call and maybe try again right when he takes off to get you guys a little bit of the experience of standing on a glacier with a Twin Otter on skis revving up to take off.
Hello, it’s Peter again and I’m next to the Twin Otter and it’s just about ready to fire up. We’re going to listen to a little bit of the audio from Vinson Base Camp here at 7,000’. Four team members, Ed and Cindy and Dave and Ben are loaded on the plane and waving out the windows at me right now as this Twin Otter fires up to fly from Vinson Base back to Union Glacier. The rest of the team, myself and Jake, Kent, Seth, and Caroline are going to stay here and ski. The plan is to ski for a couple of days here on the glacier and then head back about a hundred miles to Union Glacier looking for a peak that hasn’t been climbed or skied before. We’re going to be dropped there and spend three or four days doing first ascents and first ski descents. Okay, I’m going to shut up here and we’ll listen to this Twin Otter here as it powers up as it heads off the glacier here back to Union Glacier where hopefully these guys can be picked up by the Ilyushin very soon.
Okay, one more try, the Twin Otter taking off. Here it comes. [Engine Noise] Bye bye plane.
Peter Whittaker calls in as the plane lands at Base Camp
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