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Entries from Vinson Massif


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team - Storm Day

Let’s get the exaggerations out of the way at the start… Winds today at Low Camp were between 70 and 80 mph.  Except those figures are probably right, judging by how many times the gusts demolished the snow walls protecting our tents.  Those walls were made of blocks we could barely lift.  The storm is well and truly upon us… And upon everyone else too for that matter.  There wasn’t any moving from camp to camp today -or carrying of loads.  It was hunker down and hang on day.  The storm didn’t let much sun through to warm us either, so life was grim.  Conversation in the tents was tough to accomplish with the tent walls snapping like machine guns in your ear.  Walking outside the tents was bound to include getting knocked to the ice a few times.  But we are still hanging in, here at Low Camp, waiting to catch a break.  The views we did have today were quite dramatic, with giant wind sculpted clouds diving off the high peaks.  We can’t quite say yet that we’ve been through a full on Antarctic storm yet, because it ain’t over.  Soon though. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Yesterday Was a Blessing in Disguise

When the late morning sun hit Low Camp, we looked up and saw that we didn’t actually want to be up high today.  The forecaster got it right and a storm was easing onto the Vinson Massif.  It wasn’t too bad at first, but we knew that one of the teams we’d been climbing alongside of had been forced to turn back from a summit attempt.  Our day down low was spent in getting ready for a blow.  The gang built strong snow walls and dug in.  The storm hit Low Camp with surprising intensity around six in the evening.  Winds got up to thirty and forty miles an hour and have stayed there (with higher gusts) for hours -it is midnight now.  We’re tucked in now and listening to the roar.  We are hoping our high camp friends are behind big fat snow and ice walls.  We are happier to be down here for this event.  Yesterday’s mishap now seems like a blessing in disguise. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Yes, that was a blessing. I hope the other team is well. Good luck when you attempt to summit next!
Yuki

Posted by: Yukiko Loritz on 12/4/2016 at 1:55 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Go Up But Then Down Again

Hard day of climbing today for our team.  The day began (at eleven AM) with great weather but some uncertainty anyway.  The forecast was calling for marginal weather again a couple of days out and so teams were struggling to decide whether to commit to the ascent.  We committed and left Low Camp at 3:40 PM.  The previous carry up the fixed ropes, plus a day of rest in between, both seemed to have done the trick.  We were moving well and the day was staying good.  We reached our previous high point (about 11,200) and then suffered a mishap.  We dropped an essential piece of gear down the hill.  The loaded backpack cruised on down our of sight.  There was no choice but to descend, retrieve the gear, regroup and recoup at Low Camp.  We’ve now accomplished a good chunk of that.  We are thankful that nobody was hurt, that we’ve still got our gear and that we’ve got the resources and fortitude to try again when conditions allow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Hanging at Low Camp

Today was our much deserved rest day, but we’d have been hanging here at 9200 ft even if we weren’t deserving.  It was a storm day on Vinson.  Not so bad where we are, but pretty obviously bad up above.  The upside of having all of the cloud cover was that temperatures were moderate this morning.  We had our traditional noon breakfast followed by naps, books, daydreaming, water drinking and snow block stacking.   The forecasts aren’t so positive for the next few days, so fortifying our tents is in order.  Otherwise, we’re staying positive and enjoying a typical day at altitude in the interior of Antarctica. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Damn, I wish I was there again.  It’s such a special place.  Like being on another planet.  Speaking of other planets, or moons, did you guys hear that Buzz Aldrin was down there with you?  Had to have a medical evac from the South Pole.

Posted by: Larry Seaton on 12/1/2016 at 10:16 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry Up the Ropes

It was a sunny day, but the sun took its sweet time getting to us.  It was about 10:30 before it made its way around the mountain to give us a little heat.  We stayed patiently in our sleeping bags until then because it was mighty cold in the shadows. There was a little wind jetting off the ridge that High Camp sits on, and as we ate our brunch, that wind seemed to be swirling a little onto the fixed ropes.  We set out on a carry at 1:50 while keeping an eye out for changing weather.  It was nice to be going out with an ice axe in hand and crampons underfoot -like climbing again- after a couple of days of “snow slogging”.  We spent a few minutes reviewing techniques for steep climbing before hopping on the fixed ropes.  It was a hard couple of hours pushing up the firm and continuously steep snow.  Luckily the wind held off on the main part of the climb, but it was obviously still gusting hard at the top of the lines. So we quit a little before the top -at perhaps 11,200 ft-  and cached food and supplies.  Then it was down the ropes and back into Low Camp by 8 PM. 
A filling and hot dinner and it was time for bed.  Rest day is in order for tomorrow. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map


Vinson Massif: High Times at Low Camp

It was another calm, sunny day on Mount Vinson.  We took full advantage, moving from Basecamp at 7000 ft to Low Camp at 9200 ft.  We managed it in just over five hours, which is plenty good for being about 6.5 miles.  Better still when you consider that we picked up extra weight at the halfway point (our cache from yesterday).  The route up the Branscomb seems to be in “normal” snowcover conditions.  Most of the yearly accumulation out here occurs below where we are now.   Snow accumulation is generally a good thing -it bridges the crevasses.  So our route today was pretty straightforward in terms of crevasse hazards… which is fine by me.   One could be tempted to think that in a land of massive glaciers,  that of course it must snow a lot.  But Antarctica is the highest and driest continent on earth.  Right at the moment, we’re liking the dry.  This camp gets the sun until quite late -around 3AM.  The air is cold, maybe -15 F, but inside a tent in the sun, life is good. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Sorry the whole team has to read this, but, Keith, the alarm keypad is beeping continuously. Is there a way to turn it off? Pushing “Cancel” does nothing.
Yuki

Posted by: Yukiko Loritz on 11/30/2016 at 6:19 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry to Half Camp

Today was half preparation (which we’ve been doing a lot of lately) and then finally…. Walking uphill.  We took a “shakedown cruise”.  Roping up and then carrying a load about half the distance to Low Camp.  It was a perfect day, in terms of weather.  Clear, calm conditions with bright and strong sunshine.  Great for getting started.  We only went a couple of hours uphill on the broad Branscomb Glacier, but as usual, the view got better and better as we went.  Eventually we were getting to see the surrounding spires and cathedrals of the Sentinel Range.  Mount Shinn, Mounts Epperly and Gardner.  And we couldn’t miss the vertical mile of Vinson’s West Face getting gigantic in front of us.  Our goals achieved at “half camp”, we cached the gear and supplies and rolled on down to Vinson Base.  This evening was a little easier than last night, not so hectic since the camp was already built.  We’re hoping everybody gets a full rest tonight, as tomorrow could be another good climbing day. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The photo is beautiful! Good luck on tomorrow’s climb!
Charlotte

Posted by: Charlotte Williams on 11/29/2016 at 5:16 pm

The view of the mountain is gorgeous! Glad to read the weather is good. Hope it continues. Good luck!
Yuki

Posted by: Yukiko Loritz on 11/29/2016 at 9:08 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Arrive at Vinson Base Camp

Almost one in the morning now.  It has been a long, but very fine day.  We took off from Punta Arenas just after ten AM.  The flight -in airline seats within the cargo hold of the IL76- was smooth as anything.  It took about 4.5 hours to get down to Union Glacier.  By then we were wearing plenty of clothing in anticipation of setting foot on Antarctica.  Sure enough, it was cold and windy at the ice runway, although it was also brilliant, sunny and beautiful.  We caught a ride over to camp in a modified big wheel van.  As is normal, there wasn’t much wind blowing at all in Union Camp and so it was quite pleasant to sit outside talking.  We peeled off our down coats and mingled with the camp staff and the other climbers and adventurers in camp.  It took a bit of time for all of the cargo to come off the big plane and be transported to camp, but not long after being reunited with our gear, we were loading it into a ski equipped Twin Otter for the ride out to Vinson Base.  The team took plenty of pictures of the ride through the Ellsworth Mountains.  Our second perfect landing of the day put us exactly where we wanted to be… At 7000 ft on the Branscomb Glacier, at the foot of Mount Vinson.  There were no clouds to hide the spectacular peaks and glaciers surrounding us.  We had plenty to do in getting a camp established and gear and food sorted, but of course the sun just kept beaming down after midnight, so we kept at it until all were fed and in bed.  It isn’t going to get dark tonight, but soon the sun will duck behind the mountain and it will get cold.  So we’ll sign off for now and check in again tomorrow… today…. whatever. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Best of Luck to you Dave and your team, hopefully the sun shines bright for the climb

Posted by: Dave on 11/28/2016 at 3:15 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Hang in Punta Arenas

We were awake early, we put on climbing clothes and climbing boots, we clomped on out of the hotel lobby at 6 in the morning and got on the bus to the airport.  We passed through immigration and through security.  We sat down in the waiting area and received word that wind speeds at Union Glacier were a bit too high for safe landings.  Forty-five knots does sound a little sporty for putting the wheels of a giant four engine jet down on a blue ice surface.  The flight was scrubbed for the day.  Without much conversation, the fifty passengers in big boots walked back through security and onto the bus.  A half hour later we were checking into our rooms once again.
The weather in Punta Arenas today was spectacular.  Each of the team took advantage by going for extended walks and explorations in all directions.  It is rare to have cloudless days in this part of Patagonia.  It seemed a treat to be able to clearly see the glaciers and peaks of Tierra del Fuego well across and down Magellan’s Straights.  Sarmiento, the storied and sought after ice mountain far to our south was out for all to see.
As is our tradition, we gathered for yet another great dinner in yet another fine restaurant with a friendly staff.  As we were finishing up, the call came, alerting us to the plan to try it all again tomorrow morning.  False starts and the need for fresh plans are not uncommon when it comes to launching for Antarctica.  We’ll be ready if it happens and understanding if it doesn’t.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Just got the text that you have arrived at Union Glacier camp. Congratulations! Hope conditions stay favorable for you.
Yuki

Posted by: Yukiko Loritz on 11/27/2016 at 12:36 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Bags Packed, Fingers Crossed

We sent off our Antarctic luggage this morning as planned.  By now our gear should be nestled in with a pile of other gear on board the Illyushin 76 transport, awaiting takeoff.  We spent the day in a variety of ways, napping, walking, running, swimming, eating and watching hotel TV.  Relaxing, in other words.
This evening we gathered at the offices of ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions) to meet the other fifty or so folks on our flight, to be briefed on procedures, and to be updated on current conditions.  The subject of the current weather and expected weather didn’t take much time at all to review… it is good and is expected to remain good.  The flight is on!  We’ll be ready for pickup at our hotel by ten minutes after six tomorrow morning.  We each enjoyed chatting with the other adventurers on board… climbers for Vinson, folks looking to travel to see Emperor Penguins and people journeying to the South Pole.  As well, there will be a number of ALE staff on board the flight, since this is still the kickoff to their 2016-17 season.   We mingled and lingered for a bit and then my team came out of the office to walk the streets of Punta Arenas once again.  It was quite pleasant out, delightfully cool with clear skies.  We had a last South American dinner in one of the fine and eclectic restaurants of downtown Punta.  And then we made an early evening of it… a little more personal time to finish correspondence and get good rest for the early and exciting start to tomorrow.   Fingers crossed, we’ll make our way down to Union Glacier in the interior of Antarctica.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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