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High camp, Vinson Massif

It was plenty cold at low camp last night. Namgya bravely got out of the tent at 11 AM to fire up the stoves, even though we were still in the cold shadow. The weather held, with little cloud cover getting in our way. We watched a blanket of thick cloud fill the valley below and we could see wind tearing at the mountaintops, but we lucked out with calm and sunny conditions for our five hour and ten minute climb up to high camp.

Willie Benegas and Vern Tejas managed to get their teams to the summit deespite the winds and both were back just after we got our tents built and kitchen dug out, around 8:30 PM. Vern is the new world’s record holder for Vinson ascents, with 27. I have a chance to tie him tomorrow if the weather cooperates and if my climbers are feeling fine. They seem to be. Leif Whittaker, who turned 25 the day we flew out of Punta Arenas, is cruising along as if he did this sort of thing all the time. One can’t help just assuming that it is in his blood, since his Dad is Big Jim Whittaker -the first American up Everest. Sashko Kedev, our cardiologist from Macedonia was thrilled with the day on the ropes today and obviously can’t wait for tomorrow. Tim Amos, our producer from New York City, has been strong and steady all along. Brent Huntsman is the team geologist from Ohio and when we slow down enough to permit conversation (not often), he explains the wild “chevron” folds in the rock we are seeing.

It is calm now (12:30 AM) at high camp, we want it to stay that way.


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