Posts for Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif:  Team #2 Arrives Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Jeff Martin | December 02, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Our second RMI Vinson Expedition is officially underway! The team all arrived this afternoon in Punta Arenas. Despite the long miles travelled in crowded planes, immigration lines, and the scrutiny of the custom’s agents, everyone made it with their luggage.
After a quick check-in at our hotel, we immediately headed off to dinner at the very popular La Marmita, where we dined on some of the best fresh and local food around. The restaurant was packed as usual, but we got right in and had a great meal.
It’s almost 11:00 pm now, and still light outside. The weather has been cold, rainy and windy in town the last few days, but that won’t really affect our plans as we will be spending the majority of time finalizing our preparations for our flight to Union Glacier. But now we have to do is relax and focus on getting a good night’s sleep.
We’ll check in tomorrow with our next update.
Best regards,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

The RMI Team gathers in Punta Arenas.  Photo: Jeff Martin

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Vinson Massif Expedition: Big Day

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 02, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

We woke to a perfect day at Union Glacier and proceeded to make the most of it.  By 10:15 AM we were getting airborne in a Canadian Twin Otter.  There were no clouds to be seen, just mountain after mountain and glacier after glacier.  Thirty something minutes into our flight, the mountains got enormous, which meant we were headed in the right direction.  A few minutes more and we were circling the Branscomb Glacier and checking out the snow strip runway.  After a flawless touchdown, the team got out, said “wow” a lot and began hauling gear toward a likely set of tent sites.  We built camp, sorted gear, sat for a great briefing with ALE’s Basecamp manager and by 5 PM were ready to go for a walk.  The teams that had come in yesterday were already moving up the mountain, but we were content to simply do a carry up to “half camp” and then return to base for the night.  Vinson base is at 7,000 ft and so to get used to the altitude and the rhythms of glacier travel we carried food and equipment for a little more than two hours, cached it and walked another hour back downhill.  We were in camp again by 9 PM which left plenty of strong sunshine hours for dinner and prepping for bed. 
It sure took us a while to get to the mountain, but now we are all pretty excited to have arrived. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Arriving Vinson Massif.  Photo: Jake Norton/ First Ascent Unloading gear at Vinson Basecamp.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif Expedition:  Almost, not quite

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

A whole lot of airplanes got flown around Union Glacier today, but not ours.  At first, the day looked like another storm day with low cloud and poor contrast, but by mid-morning, things began to shape up.  About fifty mountains appeared from the mists and the sun came out to stay.  Word was that clouds were persisting at Vinson Base, however.  So we got out our ropes and toys and began reviewing crevasse rescue strategies.  Meanwhile the planes began flying other folks to and fro around Antarctica.  Camp emptied out as the weather got more and more pleasant.  We trained, we ate, we waited.  It wasn’t until after dinner that conditions at Vinson improved enough for a try with the ski-equipped Twin Otter.  But that plane was designated for others and ours was to be a second lap by the same plane… if time allowed.  But it didn’t allow.  By the time the plane finally went, it was known that the pilots would reach the end of their “duty day” before a second lap.  Ours will have to be tomorrow after breakfast… fresh pilots, fresh weather, fresh hope. 
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif Expedition: Nothing Flying

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 30, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

We got a chance to enjoy an Antarctic storm today.  It wasn’t one for the record books, no epic, not particularly special.  Just a fair amount of cloud, snow, blowing snow and persistent wind.  In other words, it was a “no fly” day.  It sounded like Vinson Basecamp was reporting similarly bad weather at their end.  At first we thought we might be able to spend the day reviewing climbing techniques, but then the wind picked up and it became an indoors day.  So we passed time in the mess tent, getting to know some of the people who will try to visit Emperor Penguin colonies and speaking to those who will try to either bike, ski or walk to the South Pole.  It was a day for reading and writing and resting.  Perhaps tomorrow we’ll get to fly out to Mount Vinson. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif Expedition: On ice, which is nice

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 2,297'

Good things come to those who wait.  At 20 minutes to midnight yesterday, with the Southern Cross shining down on Punta Arenas, we left the continent.  We were shoehorned into the cavernous cargo compartment of the Ilyushin 76 airplane, along with about fifty other passengers, a pickup truck and a mountain of gear and supplies.  The flight took about four and a half hours and was almost completely lacking in any noticeable turbulence.  We passed time by reading, listening to music and simply snoozing. 
With about thirty minutes to go, everybody began layering up, tying boots, and pulling on hats and face masks.  With perhaps 15 minutes to go, the flight crew turned on a new feature, a big screen TV with the outside view from the nose of the plane.  It was absolutely spectacular, like a clip from “Frozen Planet” or “Planet Earth”.  Surreal beauty, until we felt the wheels under our seats touching the ice surface in the picture.  Then it became real as the engines roared to slow the plane. 
After the perfect landing, we marched out into the middle of Antarctica.  After some photo-ops and handshakes, we shuffled over to a warming hut and then into a modified van for a ride across the glacier on giant tires.
It wasn’t to be as far as getting straight out to Vinson Basecamp.  Weather there wasn’t suitable for a Twin-Otter flight, so after an early morning welcome meal, we built our tents and crashed for a few hours.  The weather slowly deteriorated during the day, with cloud building up and light snow falling.  That didn’t stop us from spending a few hours out in late afternoon to review rope techniques.  We rounded out the first day with an excellent dinner and an evening spent chatting with various adventurers on exotic missions on ice. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica Now at Union Glacier, Antarctica.  Photo: Jake Norton

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Touchdown on Union Glacier

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 29, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 2,297'

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from Antarctica. We made our flight through the night. We left Punta Arenas around 11:40 p.m. and flew down through the dark, until reaching the daylight of Antarctica. We landed at about 4:15 this morning at Union Glacier. Beautiful landing and we are in Union Glacier Camp. We haven’t gone out to Vinson, it’s probably not gonna happen today. But we are keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow. We’ve got our tents up and we are sleeping in to recover from the night of flying. But all is well, and we’ll get you a regular dispatch when possible.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The plane parked at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker De-boarding the plane at Union Glacier. Photo: Dave Hahn


Dave Hahn calls in after landing on Union Glacier.

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Vinson Massif Expedition:  Team thankful for flight!

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 28, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

It is looking like we will have much to give thanks for today.  The flight to Union Glacier is on!  We are on the bus leaving town for the airport now, all bundled in Antarctic clothing.  I hope to send the next update from the ice.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Spend Another Day in Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 27, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Another day closer to the one we fly on… But not noticeably.  The weather in Punta Arenas -which is not the problem for flying to Antarctica- was just slightly ridiculous today.  Rain and snow showers alternated with sun and wind bursts, over and over again.  We still got in some great walks, going south to the wreck of The Lord Lonsdale… a great hulking steel square rigger, beached and evocative of bygone eras.  We sampled coffee shops and dining spots.  We waited patiently.  Conditions at Union Glacier are not yet good… But they will be soon enough and we will go climbing.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The Team Visits the Lord Lonsdale wreckage. Photo: Dave Hahn The Vinson Team in Punta Arenas. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif Expedition:  Team Explores Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 26, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

There was some reason for hope today for getting the Antarctic flights rolling.  But in the end the better weather didn’t quite materialize.  We didn’t waste much time fretting over the situation though.  The team rallied after leisurely breakfast coffees (extending well into the afternoon) and set off on an urban hike.  At least it began as an urban hike, through the streets of Punta Arenas, accumulating stray dogs as we went along, but after about an hour of hard walking we worked our way into the countryside.  The wind was howling and the clouds were covering sun and sky, but we persevered.  Ultimately we found ourselves in park-like surroundings, climbing the ski area overlooking town.  At the top we were two thousand feet higher and about 7.5 miles from our lodging.  We still had one stray dog and about fifty miles per hour of wind, to go along with an unexpectedly grand view of Punta and the whitecaps of the Straits of Magellan.
We were back down to the waterfront and the friendly tourist restaurants by early evening, celebrating another fine summit together.
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The RMI Team hiking the streets of Punta Arenas.  Photo: Dave Hahn Wind walking on the hills above Punta Arenas.  Photo: Dave Hahn The RMI Vinson team on the summit of the Punta Arenas Ski Area.  Photo: Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back in Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 25, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

We ended our pre-climb road trip today, cruising back to Punta Arenas from Puerto Natales.  Things haven’t progressed a great deal on the logistical front.  We were invited around to a social gathering at the offices of ALE, where we met and mingled with the other passengers on our hoped-for flight.  In addition to the climbing teams, there were several groups intent on going overland to the South Pole by various means.  We were hosted by the friendly staff and directors of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions.  One of the directors, Mike Sharp, gave a brief talk and slideshow as to the weather outlook and the chances for flying in the next few days.  There are possibilities.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Puerto Natales, Chile. Photo: Dave Hahn Scenic views going back to Punta Arenas. Photo: Dave Hahn The mountains await. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Recent Images From Vinson Massif

  • Vinson Massif, 16,067' - Top of the Bottom of the World. Photo: Gordon Wiltsie
  • Ilyushin 76 just landed on Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • Iluyshin 76 back in Punta Arenas, Child. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Road signs at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • Dave Hahn on the Vinson Massif summit. Photo: TA Loeffler
  • An RMI Climber making the final steps to the summit of the Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Climbers approaching High Camp on the Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Climbers on the fixed lines below Vinson High Camp. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • A climbers on the Branscomb Glacier.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • Low Camp on Mt. Vinson.  Photo:  RMI Collection
  • Union Glacier map
  • RMI Climbers above Vinson High Camp on Summit Day.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Climbers making their final steps to the summit of the Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • An RMI Climber at the top of the fixed lines on the Vinson Massif. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • An RMI Team on the Branscomb Glacier.  Photo: Jake Norton
  • An RMI Team camped at Low Camp on Mt. Vinson.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • RMI climbers ascending the Branscomb Glacier.  Photo: Seth Waterfall
  • Vinson Team 2 sightseeing in Punta Arenas. Photo: Jeff Martin
  • The RMI Team gathers in Punta Arenas.  Photo: Jeff Martin
  • Arriving Vinson Massif.  Photo: Jake Norton/ First Ascent
  • Unloading gear at Vinson Basecamp.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica
  • Now at Union Glacier, Antarctica.  Photo: Jake Norton
  • The plane parked at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker
  • De-boarding the plane at Union Glacier. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Team Visits the Lord Lonsdale wreckage. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The Vinson Team in Punta Arenas. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Team hiking the streets of Punta Arenas.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Wind walking on the hills above Punta Arenas.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The RMI Vinson team on the summit of the Punta Arenas Ski Area.  Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Puerto Natales, Chile. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Scenic views going back to Punta Arenas. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The mountains await. Photo: Dave Hahn