Entries From Vinson 12-13-12

Vinson:  Team #2 Readies in Punta Arenas, Chile

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 15, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Our second Vinson trip of the season has officially started. After some fairly long flights and a few delays, we all arrived in Punta Arenas yesterday. Fortunately all our gear has also arrived.
With all the excitement of a new adventure starting and the fact that it does not get dark here until almost 11:00 pm, it was well after midnight before we decided to call it a day.
Since there was not a whole lot on the agenda today, we took full advantage of this by sleeping in and having a late breakfast.
We finished up the last of our equipment needs by checking out a few of the local gear shops and a stop at the grocery store to buy some additional snack food. At the same time we able to explore a little bit of this neat little town.
With our bags more or less packed up, we headed out for a nice dinner at La Marmita. The food is incredible here and it is no wonder why it sits at the top of the restaurant list for Punta Arenas.
Tomorrow we will have our briefing with ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions), to go over the details of our flight to Vinson and the rules of climbing in such a remote and pristine environment.
Will check-in tomorrow.
All the best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

RMI Team #2 in Punta Arenas.  Photo: Jeff Martin

Vinson Massif: Team Ready, Bags Loaded, Hoping for Flight Tomorrow

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 16, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Hi RMI,

We gathered with about 30 other climbers this morning for our pre-trip briefing with ALE. Mike Sharp, one of the owners, gave a very detailed presentation about what is going to happen over the next few days. As you might imagine, logistics for getting to the “bottom of the world” are complex. Even though we have already traveled thousands of miles to get to Punta Arenas, we have about 2,000 more miles to fly and two different airplane types to go before we get to Vinson Basecamp. Covering everything from flight plans to arial maps of Union Glacier and the climbing route to ways for dealing with the extreme cold, it is critical information to know before we fly out of here and land in the middle of Antarctica.

After the meeting, we weighed our bags and sent them off to the airplane so they can be loaded and ready for our flight.

Weather permitting, we are planning for an early flight tomorrow, with the airport transfer scheduled for 7:00 am. Next dispatch will hopefully be from Union Glacier.

All the best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

Enjoying the sights in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Vinson Massif:  Team #2 Arrives in Antarctica

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 17, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

Union Glacier camp was a busy place this morning.  There were snowcat sledge trains and big-wheeled vans and tracked vehicles and snow machines of every sort and size zipping from A to B, plowing things flat, and simply hauling freight and people.  Fuel drums were being fed to the Twin Otters and names were being written on luggage tags.  The ALE staff were in overdrive and sixty outbound climbers and Antarctic enthusiasts were pleased, mellow and smiling.  It was “Ilyushin Day”.... Out with the old and in with the new on a grand scale. 
My successful climbing team packed their bags and knocked their tents down in about five minutes… Ready to go home but also a little sad to be leaving this cold paradise.  Around 1:30 PM, the big four engine Russian jet touched down with a great roar of reversed thrust out on the ice runway.  My old gang got in one big offroad van with Seth Waterfall and headed for the plane and Punta.  I’d shaken their hands and advised them to have a heck of a victory feast in town.  They’d earned it.  I stood for a while watching all the action and before long another big offroad van pulled up with my new climbing team. 
Nicole, Brian, Joe and Bart were snapping pictures in all directions and smiling broadly.  We got acquainted and oriented, waited a bit and then hurried up for a flight to Mount Vinson.  By then it was dinner time and the Union folk felt bad about kicking us out of camp without a big feed, but clouds were closing in and we needed to get to the mountain.  Mission accomplished (with a big pan full of hot pigs-in-a-blanket for inflight food) despite the encroaching storm, there were still a few thousand peaks to be seen out the windows of our ski plane.  We landed at Vinson Basecamp around 8 PM and built our tents in our new home.  My climbers haven’t yet seen their mountain as it is cloaked in mist and light falling snow, but they will see plenty of the big hill, soon enough. 
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Arriving to Vinson Base Camp via Twin Otter. An RMI Team establishing Vinson Base Camp 7,200'.  Photo: Jake Norton

On The Map

4

We’re cheering you on, Joe! Love to you from me and the girls!

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Posted by: Stacey Brus on 12/19/2012 at 8:53 pm

Good luck to Brian and the team. We’re super excited for you.  You have a lot of people here following you and cheering you on!

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Posted by: Katie Koppenhafer on 12/19/2012 at 9:40 am


Vinson Massif: Team Refreshes on the Basics and Caches Supplies Uphill

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 18, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

Clouds and murk rule the Ellsworth Mountains for the moment.  But even so, the weather isn’t all that bad down here on the Branscomb Glacier.  We did a normal mid-morning wake-up at Vinson Base (earlier than that one risks discomfort from cold shadows and down glacier breezes).  A leisurely breakfast was followed by a brief review of the basic mountaineering techniques we’ll employ for travel on the lower mountain.  In mid-afternoon we set out to carry loads up the long gentle hills between base and the big ninety degree turn of the glacier at the foot of Vinson’s massive Western escarpment.  This carry wasn’t performed so much out of a great need to get supplies up the hill, but more out of a desire to test systems and our legs and lungs.  All good.  We cached the load at around 8,700 ft and walked easily back to our 7,000 ft Basecamp.  We even got a few grand views of the endless ice to the west.  These had to suffice for scenery since the clouds closed in while we were eating dinner and put us in a world of gauze and grey.  The sun will come out tomorrow.  Possibly. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The mountains near Vinson Basecamp.

Vinson Massif: Stormy at Basecamp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 19, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

We had higher hopes for today.  But no, we didn’t go anywhere.  It was stormy with a forecast for more, so we sat at Basecamp.  The mountain was partially visible from time to time, but mostly it was socked in with a thick layer of cloud covering all but the bottom of the western face.  As the afternoon wore on there was even a little wind right here in Basecamp (which is rare) but mostly it was just calm cool and cloudy.  The team rode it out in the tents; reading, writing, talking, eating and sleeping.  By evening the sun had broken free of the clouds that were piled up against the mountain and things got downright pleasant for a while.  Fingers crossed for more pleasantries tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Views of the mountains near Vinson Base Camp.

On The Map

1

nice pic.

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Posted by: michelle on 12/19/2012 at 9:30 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait for the Storm to Pass

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 20, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

Same storm, different day.  We are still at Basecamp and this big system of clouds and wind is still hitting the Ellsworth Mountains.  It came on a bit more today, with thicker clouds and hours of light snow falling, but so far we have been spared the big winds.  The teams we flew in with journeyed on up to Low Camp despite the weather today, so we are alone at base, but none of us is particularly worried that we are missing some golden opportunity.

We ate, read, listened to music, ate, slept and ate again… getting set for the end of the world, or a good day for climbing… whichever comes first.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

A team near Vinson Basecamp. Peter Whittaker Collection Union Glacier on Vinson Massif.
2

Best of luck Nicole!  So proud of you!

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Posted by: Lisa on 12/21/2012 at 1:21 pm

safe travels to you and your team as you work your way to the summit.

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Posted by: michelle on 12/21/2012 at 4:42 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Make Move to Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 21, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

The longest day of the year is a little redundant in a place where the sun doesn’t set… we’ll take it anyway.  Summer has come to Antarctica.  But that doesn’t mean the living is easy.  We still have the tail end of that storm to contend with.  At least we hope it is the tail end.  There is still a lot of cloud stuck on Mount Vinson, but it did seem a bit better than yesterday, on the whole.  So we packed up the camp and moved up the mountain.  We left Vinson Basecamp at 2:10 PM, which is not too late to be starting out (in case you are wondering).  Our plan revolved around using the late evening sunshine that Low Camp is famous for.  It only took us until 6:40 PM to pull in to the camp at 9,000 ft.  Conditions on the route were calm, cloudy, and not exactly cold.  We each did a bit of sweating, which can get problematic in a place that is perhaps -10 F but everyone took good care and we sailed through without difficulty.  On the way, we picked up our cache of supplies where the Branscomb makes the big ninety degree turn from South to West, and that pretty much completed the sled hauling “approach” portion of this climb.  Camp went up fast as we ran stoves for dinner and melted snow for drinking water.  It is just after midnight now, and all are in bed.  There is a thin layer of cloud still blocking our sun… but it isn’t like it is the end of the world or anything.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Climbers on the glacier near Vinson Base Camp. Peter Whittaker Collection An RMI Team hauling sleds on the Branscomb Glacier. Peter Whittaker Collection

On The Map

2

Go Nikita!!! I can see you in your blue jacket. Cheering for you and stay safe. XOXO.

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Posted by: Nicole on 12/23/2012 at 1:38 pm

wow! beautiful pics, especially that first one. thanks for diligently posting. such an adventure! love following your dispatches.

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Posted by: michelle on 12/22/2012 at 7:10 am


Vinson Massif: Carry High, Sleep Low

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 22, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

We made pretty good use out of today.  The weather wasn’t perfect, it still seems like the long, slow storm is lingering, but it wasn’t all that bad either.  There was still a ton of cloud hanging around when we got out of the tents at Low Camp this morning.  We’d done the traditional sleep in until 11 AM so as to avoid the cold cold Vinson shadow that haunts Low Camp, but the surprise turned out to be that it really wasn’t all that cold.  The clouds had kept some heat in for us.  Everybody was feeling good and well-rested, so we grabbed some supplies, shoved them in our packs and headed for high camp.  The goal was to do a carry, to bring food up for our eventual move to high camp.  But moving that food up wasn’t nearly as important as getting everyone familiar with the climbing route and getting in some good exercise at altitude.  We did all of that.  The “meat” of the day was toiling for about three hours on the steep and continuous “fixed rope” section of the hill.  By the top of the ropes, the weather had taken a slight turn for the worse, with a slight, but persistent breeze blowing new falling snow,  We carried on the extra hour and a half to high camp anyway, since it seemed we were getting such good experience in and everyone was climbing strong.  We were up to high camp by about 7:25 PM, meaning we were spot on the expected six hours.  We just took a few minutes to cache the gear and food and then we were off down the hill.  We got warmer as we descended and made pretty good time with light packs.  It was 9 PM when we reached the base of the ropes and just another fifteen minutes or so brought us into camp.  The sun came out while we were eating dinner and getting ready for bed, making all of that just a little bit easier. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team camped at Low Camp on Mt. Vinson. An RMI Team ascending the fixed ropes toward High Camp on Vinson Massif.

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Rest Day at Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 23, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

That storm finally eased, now for the next one.  Actually, we hope the next one is a long way off.  We enjoyed a fine and quiet rest day at Low Camp.  Long meals, long naps, lots of drinking water, some books, some music… an altogether great day in the mountains of Antarctica.  We had good strong sunshine for much of the day, but as we ate our dinner (at around 9 PM) things began to cloud up again.  There isn’t any wind forecast to go along with the clouds so our fingers are crossed for a good moving up day tomorrow.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Tents established at Vinson Massif's Low Camp.

On The Map

2

Hey to Mark and Chris.  Way to go!  Thinking of you.  Tomas

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Posted by: Tom on 12/24/2012 at 12:57 pm

Merry Christmas!!

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Posted by: Vanessa Block on 12/24/2012 at 6:47 am


Vinson Massif: Moving Up

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 24, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 12,600'

We made the big move up from Low Camp to High Camp today.  The team climbed well and strong… getting the job done in a little over five hours.  But it wasn’t easy, by any means.  A cold wind hit us just above the top of the fixed ropes and then harassed us all the way into camp.  That made for some cold campers, initially, but we got a few tents and a kitchen built and life got better, the way it always does when such things are around.  The teams that we flew onto the mountain with managed to summit today -the storm hit some of them on their way back into camp but they coped well, for all we could tell.  Of course our hope is that wind and clouds will flee in time for us to enjoy a Christmas summit of Mount Vinson, but we shall see.  If we have to give the storm a day or two to pass through, we can do that as well.  A Christmas spent napping in a warm sleeping bag alongside friends is not a terrible thing.  We just hope Santa will find his way into the chimney on these tents without too much difficulty.

Merry Christmas from the Ellsworth Mountains, Sentinel Range, 12,600 ft up on the Vinson Massif, deep in the heart of Antarctica. 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climbing to High Camp on Mt. Vinson The view from High Camp on Mt. Vinson.  Photo: Jake Norton

On The Map

1

Merry Christmas!

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Posted by: michelle on 12/25/2012 at 2:11 am


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