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Entries from Expedition Dispatches

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.

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!

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!

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.

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

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Getting Down to Business

It may have been a holiday in North America, but down here at the lower end of South America, it was a big work day.  Meeting after breakfast in our hotel, the team got to know one another a little better and then got right into the details and mechanics of how the trip might proceed.  We discussed the protocols for arranging gear for the ride down to the ice… the peculiarities of dressing in summer on one continent to take off, and of then landing in perpetual winter in the middle of another continent.  We talked over how it might just go smoothly and right on schedule from one flight to another culminating in Vinson Basecamp... and of how it might get weird if bad weather delays flights at some point along the way.  We reviewed the necessity for checking our gear and clothing for dirt and vegetation that has no business being transported to Antarctica.  And then the team endured a series of nosy and tedious equipment checks by the leader.  The afternoon then got easier with lunches and strolls about town.  We got together for another fine dinner and then a good walk up the shoreline of Magellan’s Straight, checking out old shipwrecks and even an odd dinosaur or two along the way.  The endless twilight and the Patagonian wind sculpted clouds kept us mesmerized for our return to town..
The gear needs to be packed and ready by tomorrow morning.  It will get stowed in the big plane and things will start to get real.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Vinson Massif: Dave Hahn & Team Arrive in Punta Arenas

Our attempt on the highest mountain in Antarctica is coming together.  We’ve got our entire team -four climbers and one guide- pulled together in Patagonia to kick this thing off.  The “normal” air travel is finished… we even got all of our baggage through the system.  We celebrated by walking about the town of Punta Arenas, Chile in unseasonably warm and comfy weather.  The team fought off jet lag long enough to enjoy a great meal together.  We’ve got to get to work in the morning to prep for a Saturday morning departure for the Ice, but now it is time to sleep hard and recover from overexposure to those evil airline seats.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Love to follow your climb thru your dispatches!
Wishing you great climbing weather .

Posted by: Jayne Edgington on 11/24/2016 at 5:23 am

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Tucker & Team Wrap Up and Travel Home


These climbing expeditions are so much more than putting one foot in front of the other for hours on end. It really is fun and exciting pushing yourself way beyond what you think is your limit. Such a great mental boost and refreshing perspective you return home with that your friends, family and co-workers always benefit from the zest for life you exude. A few hour drive, seamless check in and the team is on the way home. We all not only climbed the third tallest mountain in North America, but were true ambassadors. Thank you team for representing the USA with great poise. Have I told you guys what a great job you did!

RMI Guide Mark Tucker

Thank you to the whole team! Special appreciation to Mark and Hannah along with the local guides. We couldn’t have done it without all of you. It was a wonderful trip and experience of a lifetime.

Posted by: Sierra on 11/14/2016 at 5:21 am

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Tucker & Team Summit El Pico de Orizaba!

A big and successful day for the RMI Mexico team. A fifteen-hour summit day on Pico de Orizaba. We woke up to perfect weather. Right out of the gate it is steep. No new snow at 14,000’ so it was dirt and rock to start. After about an hour we entered a crazy area called the labyrinth. Such exciting terrain winding through gully after gully with mixed moderate climbing. We put on the crampons as the snow got firmer adding to the fun and excitement of the climb. Still dark with the beautiful moon we arrived at the base of the glacier. Ropes, ice axe and all the other toys that a prudent mountaineer hauls up hill were part of the next phase. Long and pretty darn steep at that point. Snow conditions were perfect and not much wind. As the sun rose, imagine the shadow cast on the surface of the Earth by this monolithic monster of a volcano. What a sight. Keeps me coming back for more. The team did an outstanding job up and down. The team is sleepy but still lots to do here at the historic old soap factory, which is our digs for the night.

RMI Guide Mark Tucker

RMI Guide Mark Tucker calls from the Orizaba summit!

On The Map

Mexico’s Volcanoes: Team at Piedra Grande, High Camp of Orizaba

Buenos tardes!

Today we made the journey to Tlachichuca where the great Sr. Reyes lives. Sr. Reyes runs Servimont, the guide service we use to get to Piedra Grande by 4X4 trucks. The compound to which he runs his operation was once a soap factory. One of the drums used in the process to make the soap came from Philadelphia. But enough with the history lesson and back to the climbing. Once we arrived in Tlachichuca we were down to business, doing yet another gear shuffle. We packed our bags, ate a delicious lunch, and boarded the 4X4 trucks. A two-hour drive up a very bumpy and steep road brought us to Piedra Grande which sits at roughly 14,000’. We were in and out of the clouds while we pitched our tents and got settled in. Before eating dinner we had a refresher course of our skills for the climb. With fully tummies of probably the best rotisserie chicken we had ever had, we are off to get some shut eye before an early alpine start. Hopefully the next time you here from us we will be cal ling in from the summit.

Till then, good night to all,

RMI Guides Mark Tucker, Hannah Smith, and team

Looks awesome! Good luck, stay strong!

Posted by: Paul Lawrence on 11/14/2016 at 7:11 am

Good luck to all! I know you have it in ya dad!

Posted by: Kate denver on 11/12/2016 at 7:27 pm

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