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Vinson: Low to High on Vinson Massif

Our day began differently than what we’ve been used to. The seemingly eternal sun had hid herself away behind a thick veil of clouds, and a dusting of snow fell during the night. Finally, the cold of Antarctica was showing us its stuff, and I for one was impressed.

Loading up packs, we all sorted through our things, deciding what could be left at High Camp and was needed to stay to keep us warm and happy down here at Low Camp. There’s always a desire to bring as much as possible up on a carry in the hopes of having a lighter pack when you finally do move up. But, the worst-case scenario must always be considered, and generally it’s better to leave less the first time, and carry more the second time, ensuring you have what you need if the going gets tough. So, we all had heavy packs, but not too bad.

The move up to High Camp on Vinson is a fairly expedient one, taking a steep line up the Branscomb Glacier headwall. It’s steep, but not overwhelming, and fortunately gains altitude quickly. The entire team moved well, and the cloud cover was actually a blessing in disguise, keeping the temperatures reasonable. Step after step, foot after foot, we climbed upward into the clouds, dusted with snow from time to time. Eventually, the fixed lines gave way to a windy ridge and gentler terrain leading to High Camp.

As we moved up the final 1000 feet to camp, the mountains decided to show us some scenery. The clouds lowered a bit, and Mount Shinn, the third highest peak on the continent, reared up from the ether below. A stunning sight, and a nice culmination of a hard day’s work.

We’re now all safely back at Low Camp. The weather is socked in, with a light snow falling on the tents. Antarctica has finally showed us her cold side; we’re all hoping she warms to us again soon.

-Jake Norton


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