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Entries from Vinson Massif


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Only in Union

The weather out at Vinson Base remained unsuitable for flying.  The fog was in.  We ate breakfast and drank coffee at Union Glacier Camp.  Without a ray of hope for the Vinson mission, the Twin Otter aircraft were dispatched on long flights that took them close to the South Pole.  They dropped off several teams interested in skiing “the Last Degree” (of latitude - 60 nautical miles) to the Pole.  Back at Union, our team whiled away a windy morning inside the dining tent. After lunch, things had calmed and so we got out our ropes and rescue gear to run through crevasse rescue systems.  There are dozens of other climbers in our same boat… Waiting for a plane.  They were out in force today, reviewing their own rope techniques in Russian, German, French, Chinese, and exotic English. 
We’ll hope for a change in the fog out at BBC tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Antartica seems to be such an isolated and beautiful space and while I am hoping one day to be able to explore the under and above aspects of this remote white and blue place, I am going to content myself by reading your adventurous expeditions. Way to go ” Mr Cousteau in the mountains “

Posted by: Chrystel on 12/11/2014 at 11:56 am

Back to back Vinson Massif guide climbs Dave?  You are still an animal!  Be safe all and have fun.

Posted by: Jeff Olson on 12/10/2014 at 7:50 am


Vinson Massif: Teams Fly To & From Union Glacier

Team switch day at Union Glacier.  The Ilyushin 76 flew today, landing at about 2:45 PM.  “V1” ended and “V2” began.  There were a couple of hours of overlap in Union Base so that the two teams could mingle and compare notes on Punta Arenas and Vinson Massif.  The V1 gang told stories of the cold summit, the good food and the two pure white snow petrels we saw at Vinson Base yesterday while waiting for the airplane (it is uncommon to see seabirds so far from the sea).  The V2 folk talked about false starts yesterday and touring town with Jeff Martin.  Eventually it was time for JJ to take V1 out to the big jet airplane and head back across the Drake Passage to South America.  It is likely that the team is celebrating in Punta at this very moment (11:43 PM).  Back on the Ice, the V2ers waited patiently for flying weather to materialize at Vinson Base.  Word was that it was socked in with fog.  We talked, played chess, ate meals and drank coffee, but none of that made the clouds go away.  By about 10 PM we built our tents and called it a night… In the bright sunshine.  Tomorrow perhaps.  Getting to the middle of Antarctica was plenty for today. 
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

How excited we were to receive the text that the team was “a go”! Thank you so much for these blogs; it really helps keeping abreast with all the activities. Hopefully today ya’ll will be able to get to Vinson Base, home for awhile. Prayers continue. Lots of love, Mom

Posted by: Betty Sullivan on 12/9/2014 at 4:58 am


Vinson Massif: The Waiting is Over!

The waiting is over! We got the call at 7:30 this morning that it was a go. We needed to be ready by 8:00 for the shuttle to the airport. By the time we got to the airport, the crew was already making final flight preparations, and an hour later we were ready for takeoff.
Next stop will be Union Glacier where the team will be met by Dave Hahn. Dave will write the next dispatch once they arrive on the ice.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

Greg:
It was so nice to hear your voice and I can’t wait to actually be able to talk to you! Congratulations on summiting!!!! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to hear all about the views from the top ;)!

Love you!!

Nic and Jek

Posted by: Angelica on 12/8/2014 at 4:04 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Arrive Back to Union Glacier

The team had a relaxing and slow morning at Vinson Basecamp.  Many commented on how good it had been to sleep well and warm once again.  Life at Basecamp seemed a million times easier than it had before we climbed the mountain.  However, yesterday’s predictions and proclamations that we’d shuttle from airplane to airplane and from continent to continent… were overly optimistic.  We did succeed -in late afternoon- in catching a twin otter out of VBC.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the high mountains of the Sentinel Range were spectacular whereas they’d been cloaked in murk when we flew in.  Union Glacier camp was even cushier than VBC, naturally, and so nobody expressed great frustration when it was announced that the Ilyushin 76 would not be coming today due to deteriorating weather.  We’re plenty happy for the moment, sitting in chairs and eating food that guides didn’t cook.  The gang wouldn’t mind flying tomorrow though… We’ll see.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Team Plays the Waiting Game in Punta Arenas

Hello,
Well, the phone call we got this morning was not the one we wanted. The news was that the flight was not going to happen and that the next scheduled update would be at 7:30 pm. The winds at both Punta Arenas and Union Glacier were too high.
We made great use of the day despite the flight being delayed. We took a tour of Fuerto Bulnes, the first establishment in this area, founded in 1834. It is about 35 miles east of Punta Arenas and plays a very important part in this area’s history. After some lunch we did a short walking tour of the city’s cemetery which is filled with beautiful mausoleums.  While a bit on the side of eerie, it was well worth it.
We were back at the hotel early and ready for the next update. When the call came, they said that the wind gusts in the last hour (53 knots) at the airport were a little too high, but they would call back in an hour and give us another update. The next call came as promised and while the winds diminished at the airport, the relative humidity at Union Glacier had increased 82%, and the flight was not going to happen tonight.
So the waiting game continues and we will start the process again tomorrow morning with the 7:30 am update. Hopefully tomorrow will be our day to fly.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back to Low Camp

The day dawned clear and sunny again but with wind tossing a little snow around up high.  We ate a farewell breakfast at high camp and got packing.  The team was roped up by 11:15 AM and ready to climb down.  Considering our heavy packs, the long and steep fixed rope section went quite well.  With no particular difficulty we reached low camp and got busy shuffling and resorting gear, food and garbage for hauling sleds on the lower mountain.  Travel was easy then, on a well-packed snow trail and we reached Vinson Base by 4:30 PM.  Up went the tents, one more time.  Although the weather was fine for flying, ALE’s planes were elsewhere and engaged with other missions.  We are told that prospects are excellent tomorrow for getting not only to Union Glacier but all the way to Punta Arenas, Chile.  If that holds, then perhaps JJ’s steak dinner over camp stoves tonight was our last meal together.  If so, it was an excellent and peaceful gathering.  We’ve shared success and plenty of hard work these past weeks.  The team loved hearing the “blog comments” that the RMI office emailed to us (we don’t have the ability to surf the web ourselves).  It helped a great deal to know so many were following our progress.  Thank You. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Congrats on a successful trek.  Look forward to getting John back home.

Posted by: Dudley on 12/7/2014 at 5:42 am

Thank you for all your updates! It has been awesome reading and great pictures. Looking forward to Chris’ stories.
Love, Mom

Posted by: Carol Colleran on 12/6/2014 at 10:39 pm


Vinson Massif: Next Team is Ready to Meet Dave Hahn at Union Glacier

Greetings,
Today was another fairly relaxed day for us. We had taken care of all our packing and last minute shopping yesterday, so we were ready for the “weigh in” at 11:30. ALE, the company in charge of all the flight logistics, came to the hotel to weigh and collect all our checked baggage for the flight tomorrow. It will be loaded into the plane tonight and be ready to go whenever we get the green light.
We had our flight briefing at the ALE office at 5:00 pm. All the passengers (climbers and skiers) were there, about 45 total, to learn about the procedures for flying to Antarctica. As you might guess, this is definitely not a normal flight.  It’s a cargo plane. There are no window seats, overhead bins, or cabin crew. The plane was built for only two reasons, hauling cargo and landing in “off strip” runways. And a blue ice runway in the interior of Antarctica definitely qualifies as “off strip”.
At the airport in Punta Arenas, we will board the plane in 40-45 degree temperatures, wearing or carrying our Antarctica clothing. The flight, about 3000 kilometers, takes about 4 1/2 hours, and when you de-plane, you are literally on a different continent, but more importantly, it is one of the coldest and remote places in the world. When you step outside, the temperature will be about -15 degrees Fahrenheit at Union Glacier. And that does not include any windchill.
We got a flight update tonight at 7:30 pm. Tomorrow morning, they will get an updated weather report from Union Glacier at 7:00 am and after reviewing the new information, will call us between 7:30 and 8:30 am. If the weather looks good, they will give us a flight time with about 30 minutes to get ready for the shuttle to the airport. If there is any concern about the weather, they will give us the time for the next weather update. Hopefully the first call we get is the call to get ready, that the flight is a go.
We have already had dinner and are back at the hotel. We wanted to have an early night in anticipation of the big day tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

As with your folks we’ve got you all on the prayer list for a safe and successful trip and summit. Hopefully we’ll be able to zero in on the correct blog so we can experience as much of it as possible. God Bless and God speed!

Posted by: Art & Smokey Bickel on 12/7/2014 at 2:21 pm

Well, off to Antarctica. It’s hard here to imagine the cold or fully grasp the team’s excitement. Travel well, enjoy the experience and return home safely. You’re in our prayers.

Posted by: Bob Sullvan on 12/7/2014 at 4:50 am


Vinson Massif: December 3rd Vinson Team Arrives in Punta Arenas, Chile

Greetings from Chile,

RMI’s third Vinson Massif Expedition of the season has arrived in Punta Arenas. While the team arrived as scheduled, two bags failed to make a connection somewhere along the way. Fortunately, after a few phone calls and some patience, they showed up at the hotel late this afternoon.
There was not a lot on the itinerary today except to get our gear ready for the flight on Sunday. It will be picked up tomorrow morning and taken to the plane and loaded ahead of time. So we went through the equipment list one last time making sure nothing was forgotten. We then went shopping to round out our lunch food for the expedition. The team is ready to fly south!
The rest of the afternoon was free to enjoy the sights of a new city and to just relax after the many miles travelled to get here.
We finished the day at La Marmita, one of the best restaurants in town.

Best regards,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

To David and Kriss with IMG: I am so proud of both of you for your endurance, courage, and adventuresome spirits.  You and all the teams are in my prayers for a safe trek, safe and successful summit, and safe trip back to Chile and then home.  Many thanks and blessings to all the guides for their skill and safety measures.  God’s blessings on all of you. Love, Mom Buchwald

Posted by: April Buchwald on 12/6/2014 at 2:17 pm

Glad both duffles made it to lower stress levels. Everyone stay safe and well. Folk back home have you in our prayers. Keep us posted.

Posted by: Bob Sullivan, Sr. on 12/6/2014 at 7:06 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit!

We went for it today.  The weather was greatly improved.  The clouds were gone, but there were still dust devils of snow twisting off the ridges as we watched from high camp.  Obviously, we hoped for a calming trend as the day went on.  One of our climbers stayed in camp, satisfied with yesterday’s effort.  This worked out as there were two ALE “rangers” also in camp along with a guided group taking a rest day.  The rest of us set out at 10:37 AM.  We were in still air for the first hour, but then we went through a few gusty portions of the route for several hours.  The fact that the winds weren’t sustained didn’t mean they were any warmer.  We bundled up pretty good in down coats and pants and tried hard to keep our faces from freezing.  By about 15,000 ft, we’d reached a calm area, which was a great relief as the mountain was getting tough to climb even without a distracting wind.  Most were working quite hard to compensate for the lack of oxygen and the steepening snow and ice.  As we worked our way out the 16,000 ft summit ridge, we found the wind again.  This made it tough to enjoy the view of the Ellsworth Mountains spread for two hundred miles around and below us.  We walked onto the mountain top at 10 minutes to 6 PM.  Excited, but also very much on our guard against frostbite.  We took a bare minimum of pictures, did quick but heartfelt hugs, handshakes and high fives, and then beat feet out of there.  We were safely back in high camp by 8:45 PM. 

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Congratulations to everyone. Greg, we toasted you a couple of times on Sat night. Safe trip back buddy.

Kim

Posted by: Kim Morgan on 12/8/2014 at 10:01 am

Congrats Greg!! So happy & excited for you! Safe travels home ;)
Kel

Posted by: Kelly on 12/7/2014 at 12:03 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team - If At First You Don’t Succeed…

We were fresh out of good weather today.  Ran out sometime during the night.  By morning, the high peaks were capped with wind-sculpted clouds and things had a decidedly unstable look.  We procrastinated…ate breakfast and watched the progression of cloud formations.  We got a weather forecast from Vinson Basecamp around noon, and decided to go for a walk.  The thinking was that we’d be climbing in relative calm for several hours, in which time the day could turn sparkly and fine. That isn’t what happened though.  After a couple of hours and perhaps 1,300 feet of vertical gain, we were in wind and cloud… The times when we were granted better visibility, we could see more wind and cloud up higher.  Ultimately, the decision was made that -with the “normal” cold temperatures (-15 to -20 F) we were enjoying, we couldn’t fight against very much wind.  We turned back to high camp, intent on waiting out this non-storm.  The gang cut snow blocks to beef up the tent walls and we dug in just in case a real storm shows up.  We are hopeful that morning will bring better things. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

G. Barber, to think all this time Bruce has been carrying your stuff.  What?!?! Cute chics, rum, penguins - craziness (I thought it was the intrinsic value of climbing that allured you.)  Enjoying the trip reports and comments from loved ones.      Remember:  when in doubt, build snow blocks.  Patience.  Hang in there team!

Posted by: Kerry on 12/5/2014 at 7:59 pm

Hi Greg, sounded like a tough day, but the team made a good call. You have good time - stay safe, buddy.
All the best,
Bruce and Joyce

Posted by: Bruce Tocher on 12/5/2014 at 3:48 pm

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