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Vinson Massif Expedition: Team #2 Readies for Flight

Hello,
We had our pre-flight briefing this morning at 10:30 am. There were about 20 climbers from all over the world who met up at the ALE office in Punta Arenas for this very informative presentation about what will be happening over the next day or so. One of ALE’s owners,  Mike Sharp, covered all the details regarding our 4 1/2 hour flight down to Union Glacier. We learned that due to construction on the runway here at Punta Arenas, there is not enough distance on the runway for our plane to take off fully loaded. The solution: take off with only half the fuel needed for the trip and fly a short distance to Ushuaia, Argentina and top off the tanks. And by topping off the tanks, we are talking 40 tons of fuel. It will add a little time to our flight, but there’s no refueling options on the 3800 mile round trip flight to Antarctica.
The plan now stands as us getting picked up at our hotel tomorrow morning at 4:45 am and heading out to the airport. They have already picked up our luggage and it will be loaded on the plane tonight and ready for our early departure.
Remember, it’s only a plan at this point, as there are still a few big unknowns, mainly the weather at Union Glacier. Winds with blowing snow and poor visibility will mean that we will stay put for another day or two. But the forecast is looking favorable and we are ready to fly out whenever we get the green light.
Tonight we ventured off the usual circuit of restaurants and found a local’s hangout. The food was great and we have Bill to thank for picking up the tab this time. Now it’s early to bed because it will be early when we rise.
Hopefully the next dispatch will be from Antarctica!
RMI Guide Jeff Martin


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