Entries From Vinson 12-13-12

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team North Instead of South

Posted by: Dave Hahn | January 01, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Our last day on the ice turned out to be all about flying.  Flagging down an Ilyushin 76 is a big deal. This one set her wheels onto the ice runway around mid afternoon.  By then we’d taken tents down and checked our bags at the first class counter (a table in the snow with a roll of stickers, some clipboards and friendly ALE staff who were not checking our ID’s). Our Union Glacier hosts even gave us a deluxe final lunch in the dining tent.  Once the plane landed, there wasn’t any need for us to hurry.  It takes a while to unload such a big and powerful jet transport.  Eventually we caught a ride out to the ice runway in a comfy tricked out big wheeled van (with Utah plates) and then we were picking seats on the Ilyushin.  The plane took off a little after 5 PM and the Russian crew cranked up the heat.  4 hours later we’d crossed the Drake Passage and were floating in over the Straits of Magellan.  Punta Arenas lay waiting with flowers and Trees and grass in vibrant midsummer color.  The sun set as the bus brought us in from the airport (we hadn’t actually seen any sunsets while down on the ice). By 11 PM we’d checked into the hotel and showered and gotten together in the lobby for one last, pleasant, mandatory team function… The victory dinner!

Thanks for following the trip and for the friendly encouragement of the blog comments (which were relayed to us).

Best Regards and Happy New Year,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Ilyushin 76 plane landing at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection Snow transport at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection Road signs at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team - Quiet Time

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 28, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

This was a quiet and easy day at Union Glacier Camp.  We slept well and ate well at low altitude.  We sorted equipment, chatted with fellow climbers, wrote in our journals and every now and then stood outside the tents to see the mountains, the snowcats and airplanes and the Kansas-sized expanse of ice stretching to our Northeast. 

Many spent the day browsing through the great Antarctic Exploration library in camp, learning of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen.  For a change of pace in the evening, the climbing teams sat for a story session detailing the pioneering expeditions to Mount Everest

Tomorrow we’ll see if conditions allow for our “scheduled” exit flight.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Vinson Massif. Photo: RMI Collection

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back to Union Glacier

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 27, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Just like that, we went from a high cold camp on Vinson to a low,  warm (relatively) camp on the Union Glacier.  It was hard work, as usual, knocking down tents, getting packed up, and getting in some breakfast this morning, but we did it.  We started walking down the mountain at 10:30 AM.  The fixed rope descent was a workout with the big packs, but it all went smoothly, as did repacking for sled travel at Low Camp.  A few beautiful hours of glacier trudging brought us to Basecamp.  We packed, repacked and enjoyed the sunshine and big views of Mount Vinson as we waited for our airplane.  The Twin Otter swooped onto the strip and we loaded up.  Our flight back to Union was even a little more spectacular than usual as our pilots wanted to check on a few climbers in a seldom visited cluster of steep mountains just south of the Vinson and Craddock Massifs. We landed at Union just in time for a delicious sit-down (in chairs, that is) meal in the grand dining tent.  It was fun to see all of the other climbing teams again and to catch up with the ALE staff.  Quite a change for my small team after these past few days of solitude.  We are living in the lap of luxury now and are perfectly positioned to catch our flight north on Dec 29th, should conditions allow it. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Passing over Union Glacier. Photo: Jake Norton Snow transport at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection

Vinson Massif: Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 26, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 16,067'

Good things come to those who wait.  We waited until 7 AM to start the stoves this morning.  There were puffy clouds about, but no wind in the neighborhood.  It seemed like we should go climbing. 

We left highcamp at 9:20 AM, loaded for bear… or more correctly, covered in goose feathers.  The clouds came and went during our march up valley.  When they came it was too cold, when they went it was too hot.  But eventually, we got high enough that it was just plain cold anyway.  But the wind never really developed and so we didn’t feel the cold as intensely as we might have.  True to the forecast we’d received, the day got cloudier, but we were still surprised to get some stunning views of the sharp peaks to our north.  And when we reached the beautiful and fun summit ridge, we were treated to endless views to the South and East, so that we could see a hundred miles worth of the Ellsworth Mountains in that direction.  The final ridge was magical today.  There was new snow sparkling on all the rock and not a breath of wind, so it was quiet, calm and inviting as we pulled onto the top of Vinson at 5 minutes after 4 PM.  We took a million pictures of each other, made a few important phone and radio connections and smiled a lot.  We left the top at 4:45 and made good time down to high camp in a cool and gradually thickening cloud.  We were home by 7:05 PM and happily eating dinner in our POSH tent not very long afterward.

The day worked out well and we hope for one more good hard climbing day tomorrow, descending to Basecamp.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Audio Transcription:
Hey this is Dave Hahn calling from the summit of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica!  I am up here with the whole crew - five of us on top today.  It is a beautiful Day. We are in the strong sunshine. It is a little after 4:00 in the afternoon for us, and everybody is taking pictures on top and enjoying this place.  We have a big view of the Ellsworth Mountains. It is a really enjoyable day up here, Boxing Day – the day after Christmas. Nicole, Bart, Brian, Joe and Dave all send you their best wishes from 16,067’.

Bye for now!

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climbers on the Summit of Vinson Massif - RMI Photo Collection


Dave Hahn calling from the Summit of Vinson Massif

On The Map

2

Congratulations Nicole and the entire team!  Enjoy your New Year!  We will celebrate when you get back.

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Posted by: Lisa on 12/30/2012 at 7:35 am

Congrats to all. Well Done.

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Posted by: Jack on 12/26/2012 at 3:08 pm


Vinson Massif: Rest/ Storm/ Holiday

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 25, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 12,400'

We spent the night listening to a wind play through high camp.  It wasn’t a strong wind, but it was persistent and if anybody got out of the tent to feel it, it was a cold wind.  It had eased considerably by morning and so there was hope that our Christmas gift from the universe would be a nice calm summit day.  But no.  One look at the summits of surrounding peaks (we can’t see Vinson summit from high camp) revealed wind driven and sleekly sculpted cloud caps on everything.  It could not be a summit day, but it turned out to be a pretty great holiday.  We took it very easy and slow; resting, reading, taking pictures, eating and drinking.  No parades, no football, no turkey and no tree.  But also no complaints. The weather (in camp and up high) got quite nice as the day went on.  We each took walks a couple hundred feet to the west to peer over the edge… a thousand meters straight down to Low Camp, and to see where Vinson Basecamp might be hiding under a carpet of low cloud, and to gaze out at the endless ice cap. 
We have high hopes for tomorrow.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Views from High Camp on Vinson Massif.  Photo: Jake Norton

On The Map

1

Hey Jake and Team #2. Merry X-Mas.I hope that crazy wind carms down for a good chance at your summit bid. Looking forward to our trek with Bill Nugent in… read more

Posted by: Ken Young on 12/26/2012 at 8:02 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


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: 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: 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: 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


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