Posts for Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif: Patagonia Distraction

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 24, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Bad flying weather continues in Antarctica, so we focused on a more accessible continent.  The day clearly called for an 18 km round-trip hike up to Mirrador del Torres in Torres del Paine National Park.  The “Mirrador” in question was the glacial lake held under the iconic granite towers.  In our journey up from Puerto Natales, we saw condors and gauchos, glaciers and mountains, guanacos and turquoise windswept lakes. 

We walked through lush forests and up through jumbles of massive white boulders to reach the lake and an unparalleled view of the massive rock cliffs.  We gained and lost in excess of 2,500 feet in six hours of hiking… The perfect tune up for Vinson

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Climber meets Gaucho. Photo: Dave Hahn Dave Hahn & team in hike to Mirrador del Torres. Photo: Dave Hahn Torres del Paine hike. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Visit Patagonia

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 23, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Poor conditions for flying continue to delay the start of our Antarctic expedition.  Reports were that snow was in the forecast for Union Glacier.  It is already a bit of a tricky proposition to land a large four engine jet transport on an ice runway in the interior of the continent, and so we put up no objections to our logistics company’s plan to push back departure.

But of course, Punta Arenas, the jumping off point for our Vinson climb, is coincidentally the jumping off point for exploring the beauty of Patagonia.  We rented some cars and left Punta at midday, driving up to Puerto Natales.  The sky was pretty well choked with cloud, but we could still make out the foundations of great snowy mountains in the distance, across wide open and windswept prairies.  A great many unidentified raptors and other beautiful birds were playing and hunting along the road.  We saw no shortage of sheep.  Tomorrow, our intention is to enter Torres Del Paine National Park to sight see and hike.  We’ll keep the main goal -to climb to Antarctica’s highest point- firmly in our thoughts, but in the meantime we’ll open our eyes to some of the beauty of South America.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Punta Arenas.

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Vinson Massif: Starting slow… Tapering off

Posted by: Dave Hahn | November 22, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Our first Vinson climb of 2013 is not quite off the ground yet.  The team successfully negotiated the airports of the world to assemble in Punta Arenas in the South end of Chile, and we’ve gone through several meetings, gear checks and briefings.  We’ve shared a few great meals and some walks around town.  We’ve packed our bags and weighed them and consigned them to our logistical partner in this endeavor, ALE, for loading onto the Ilyushin 76 jet transport.  Normally, we’d be savoring a final night indoors before the journey to less comfortable regions of the Antarctic interior.  But we’ve learned that stormy weather is hampering flight operations at Union Glacier.  The needed supply flights are backed up a bit and we can’t possibly get in within the next few days.  We choose to greet this news in a positive light… It gives us the chance to be tourists in Patagonia for a few days.  Stand by to see what we get up to.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Sightseeing in Punta Arenas, Chile. Photo: Dave Hahn Vinson team in Punta Arenas readying for expedition. Photo: Dave Hahn Vinson Team at dinner in Punta Arenas. Photo: Dave Hahn

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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