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Entries from Vinson Massif


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


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Ready To Go

Our luck with the weather continues.  It was another perfectly calm, blue-sky, sunny day on Mount Vinson.  We took full advantage, moving up from Low Camp to High Camp.  It is plenty of work to break camp and hit the trail in this cold environment.  This “morning” it took us about 2.5 hours.  We were walking by 1:45 PM.  We had the advantage today that we were all familiar with the route and the fixed ropes -thanks to our carry on the same terrain two days ago.  This time we shaved about forty five minutes off, reaching 12,150 ft High Camp in five hours and fifteen minutes.  We set to building camp and digging in, which took a few more hours of hard work, but eventually we were all sitting face to face in a freshly excavated dining room.  We talked over exactly how summit day might work out for tomorrow.  After dinner, the team pitched in to build some snow-block walls, just in case the wind comes up.  Then folks wandered about a hundred feet west to look over the edge.  It is a stunning view, peering over this dramatic and abrupt escarpment to see almost every footstep we’ve made to date.  In the distance, the Nimitz Glacier is prominent and beyond that it seems that we can see forever on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  The team went to bed ready to go for the top, we’ll see if our weather luck holds.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Peter/Dad and Team—we’re thinking positive thoughts about the weather and hope for a successful day today/tomorrow!

Posted by: Nathaniel and Allidah on 12/4/2014 at 8:13 pm

Good luck in your summit bid Mr. Barber and Team!!!

Posted by: The Pages on 12/4/2014 at 12:21 pm


Vinson Massif: Mallory and Team Return to Union Glacier

We had a mellow morning at Base Camp today, enjoying the extra time we had to brew up fresh coffee and watch the sun creep across the glacier and bring with it warming temperatures. Not content to hang around for too long, we pulled on our ski boots and headed out for some touring above Vinson Base Camp. The rolling ridge-lines descending from the Massif offer phenomenal skiing and we took full advantage to get out and play. We climbed a couple thousand feet above Base Camp to a small summit and found spectacular views of the surrounding terrain before setting our sights back downhill and skiing some great light Antarctic snow back to camp.

As we were relaxing in the evening we received the call we’d been waiting for: the plane from Union Glacier was on its way to get us. We packed up camp and as we closed the last bag the Twin Otter came in with a soft and smooth landing on the glacier. We said goodbye to Vinson and were soon airborne on our way back to Union Glacier camp, our eyes glued to the windows as we watched the massive landscape of snow, ice, and rock flow by beneath us.

We’re now back at Union Glacier, enjoying the warmth of their large mess tent and keeping our fingers crossed that an Ilyushin flight can come into tomorrow evening to give us a lift back to South America. We’re hoping to spend a few hours checking out the mountains around camp in the morning before getting a weather check about the flight tomorrow midday.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team

On The Map


Vinson Massif: Mallory and Team Descend to Base Camp

After yesterday’s summit push we were content to lie in the tent a bit longer this morning at High Camp before finally stirring. We brewed up some coffee, that while no match for a good espresso, was a very pleasant touch to the cold but otherwise clear morning, and then set about breaking camp. With all of our gear loaded into our packs, we began descending from High Camp. We reached the top of the fixed lines and spent the next hour working our way down the massive face, carefully transitioning past anchor points until the Branscomb Glacier, once a small ribbon of white below lay underfoot. The descent was uneventful and smooth - just as one would hope when descending an exposed face like that - and another half hour of crossing brought us into Low Camp where Dave Hahn and the other RMI Team were enjoying a rest day.

Dave and JJ were kind enough to brew us up a hot drink and we traded was stories from our trips while we repacked our backpacks and sleds with the gear we had left at Low Camp. With our mugs empty and our packs and sleds full, we wished Dave’s team good luck and warm temperatures on their summit bid and set off down the glacier toward Base Camp. The gradual downhill pitch of the Branscomb and cold hard snow made for a fast descent on skis and we caught ourselves hooting and hollering at times as we cruised down the glacier (which, for anyone familiar with the pain of hauling a fully laden pack and sled down a glacier at the end of an expedition, is highly unusual). By early evening we had navigated the final crevasse field of the Branscomb and were pulling into Base Camp, relieve to be dropping our packs for the last time. After almost a week of moving up and down the mountain we have gotten quite good at setting up camp and within a few minutes we had our tents pitched and our camp shoes on. Tonight we treated ourselves to a special post summit dinner: cheeseburgers which we flew in with us from South America and have kept frozen for this very evening. To top it off, the rangers at Base Camp shared a few beers with us for our meal. Burgers and beer at foot of the Vinson Massif - we truly couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Tomorrow we will look at the flight schedule and weather forecasts to see what our options are for beginning the trek home. We are still a long ways from anywhere and the challenges of getting ourselves out of the middle of Antarctica are not inconsequential. Nevertheless, we’re happy to be down here and hoping for more good luck on the next leg of our journey.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team

On The Map

Glad that everyone is down and enjoying a burger on the ice beach. We have sauce waiting for you.  Howie

Posted by: howie mallory on 12/4/2014 at 7:13 am

Love it. Burgers and beer. I know Penn’s happy!

Posted by: Kir on 12/3/2014 at 6:02 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Are Catching Up

It was just as cold in the final hour before the sun hit this morning, but somehow that didn’t matter as much since we didn’t have to get up.  It was a rest day at 9,000 ft on Mount Vinson.  We eventually assembled the team in the POSH tent for an early afternoon, four course breakfast.  After three good and long days moving food and fuel and gear around, it was very nice to just kick back and take it easy.  It fits well with our acclimatization plan as well, to have worked up high yesterday and now to be resting at “low” altitude.  RMI Guide Linden Mallory and his climbers came through in mid-afternoon on their way to Basecamp and it was good to hear of their summit day.  The weather was perfect again today and so the sun and lack of wind had us forgetting what the actual temperature was.  We napped, drank water, read, chatted, and snacked the day away.  Finally it was time for dinner and tall tales in the strong evening sunshine.  All are feeling healthy and ready to move up the mountain.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Way to go team Glasenapp! I’m enjoying seeing your progress on this blog. Looks chilly!

Posted by: Twila Bing on 12/3/2014 at 2:45 pm

Hi Tom! Hi Haldis!
Best of luck to you and your team for a successful and safe summit!
Will give mom and dad an update on mom’s birthday over Chinese food!
(Oh, and Dave/JJ, if Tom doesn’t answer to Tom, he answers to “Hey Bob!” too!)
Stay safe and good luck!

Posted by: Monica Glasenapp on 12/3/2014 at 10:49 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry to High Camp

We knew it was going to be a cold morning here at Low Camp, the sun doesn’t make it around the mountain until 11:15 AM, but it was still somewhat shockingly cold.  True, we are in 24-hour daylight, but any shadow reminds you very quickly what the actual air temperature is.  We ate breakfast and put our crampons on for a day of carrying loads as we warmed up in the sun.  Before too long, we’d begun the fixed rope section of climbing on the way to high camp.  This section of steep and continuously firm snow meant that the day would be about vertical gain and not a great deal about distance covered.  It took six hours to make it the 3,500 ft to high camp, which sits at 12,500 ft.  Since it was perfect, cloudless weather, we could see forever as we got higher.  But what we could see was ice, ice and more ice.  Our timing was perfect, pulling into high camp just as Linden Mallory and his small team were getting there after their summit.  Todd Passey, ALE’s guide, was in camp with his team as well and very generously shared cups of hot water with the gang.  We cached food and fuel there and then got moving back toward Low Camp, which we reached at 11 PM.  It was a big day, finished off with a midnight supper in the POSH tent.  Our climbers were excited for the new vistas, but also for the great sense of accomplishment in getting such a tough day under our belts. We’ll rest tomorrow, and hope to move up the following day. 

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Way to go!  I’m glad the climb is going so well.

Posted by: Peggy Halstead on 12/2/2014 at 9:09 pm

Proud of you guys - Tom, Haldis, and Chris!!!  Have fun tomorrow reaching your goal and enjoying the views.  Look forward to hearing all about it when you get back.

Posted by: Keith on 12/2/2014 at 3:52 pm

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