Winding Down and Waiting to Fly

Posted by: | January 20, 2011
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

Sometimes things work well, efficiently, smooth as silk. And, sometimes, well, one hits a few speed bumps. We’re in the speed bump zone.

Yesterday, we had high hopes that the weather would clear tomorrow, allowing the Ilyushin - with its new fuel pump - to cross the Drake Passage and drop onto the blue-ice runway to shuttle us all back to Punta. But, weather is indeed a fickle element, and generally prefers to surprise rather than be predictable. To the surprise of some 100 people here now at Union - clients and staff alike - the forecast today is for 4 more days of bad weather, unflyable.

So, we’re stuck. It snowed all day today, with a low, grey ceiling of cloud, and will most likely do it again tomorrow. Some people have been waiting for a flight out for 2 weeks. ALE is doing everything they can, but the weather is out of even their control. So, we sit. We wait. We play cards, we laugh, we go out for a climb, a ski, something to pass the time and keep our minds off loved ones and family far, far away. It could be worse, much worse, so there are no complaints.

We all appreciate you’re tuning in these last few weeks and following along with our little adventure. I thought I’d leave you now with one of my favorite quotes from a hero of mine, and a figure of Eddie Bauer history and lore: Dr. Charlie Houston. Leader of the 1953 American expedition to K2, Houston and team had an epic op the peak. The barely survived, and one member, Art Gilkey, sadly perished on the peak.

Later, Houston reflected on the climb in his book, “K2: The Savage Mountain”, and wrote thus of climbing:

“Why climb mountains? The answer cannot be simple. It is compounded of such elements as the great beauty of clear, cold air, of colors beyond the ordinary, of the lure of unknown regions beyond the rim of experience. The pleasure of physical fitness, the pride of conquering a steep and difficult rock, the thrill of danger controlled by skill…How can I phrase what seems to me the most important reason of all? It is the chance to be briefly free of the small concerns of our common lives, to strip off non-essentials, to come down to the core of life itself. On great mountains, all purpose is concentrated on the single job at hand. Yet the summit is but a token of success. And the attempt is worthy in itself. It is for these reasons that we climb. And in climbing, we find something greater than accomplishment.”

Again, thank you all for following along. Happy adventures, and a deep Namaste from the far south.

Where we soon hope to be: Punta Arenas. Keep those fingers crossed!! Fresh snow on the First Ascent tents at Union Gap Camp.

Peter Whittaker wraps up the RMI Vinson Expedition

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Cindy,  Wish i was stuck there with you…doing some skiing!!!!!!!!!  I guess you are a bit bummed, but I am sure you are making the most of it.  What a great opportunity for you to enjoy an incredible location.  Randy

Posted by: randy on 1/21/2011 at 10:15 pm

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