Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Ascend to Low Camp
Yesterday’s perfect weather became today’s perfect weather. Strong sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and no sign of wind. We got good rest last night to make up for all of the travel nights and didn’t roll into breakfast until 9 AM. Murph took excellent care of us with eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit and coffee. Then we dug into our many packing and organizing chores. It is no small thing to shift from jet-setting in a sleek Gulfstream IV to old fashioned walking on a glacier with a week of supplies on our backs and in our sleds... but we managed just fine. Five rope teams of three set out at 1:50 PM. An hour later, at the first rest break, we all agreed that it was too darn hot in Antarctica. This was partly an illusion. The air temps were still well below freezing, but without a breeze and with plenty of hard work, we were sweating. Conditions were perfect for travel though. We had a well-packed and generally smooth trail in the snow without any open crevasses to negotiate. We took a second break at the start of a 90 degree turn in the glacier and a third under the 2,000 meter great western escarpment of Vinson. By then we were getting good looks at the sharp and dramatic summits north of Vinson. We had great views of Epperly, Gardner and Shinn -the fifth, fourth, and third highest peaks of Antarctica. We pulled into 9,200 ft Low Camp in 4.5 hours time and set to building tents and moving in. Lakpa, Pachi, and Namgya hosted a great dinner of chicken curry with rice in their spacious dining tent. We sat to sip hot drinks and chat for a bit but as we each began to feel the cold, we retired to warm sleeping bags. The tents are good and comfortable with sun projected to be on them until 3 AM -it then goes behind the mountain and we expect the big chill to take over. We’ll rest and do a little training and acclimatizing tomorrow.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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December 28, 2019
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