Entries from Expedition Dispatches
Greetings from Antarctica. Sure enough, we got the call during breakfast to be ready for flying. It wasn’t a “hurry up and wait” morning though, more a “slow down and wait” type of deal. We got picked up from the hotel before 9 AM but it wasn’t until about 11:35 AM that we lifted off from Punta Arenas. The weather picture was fairly complicated today and it took some strategic thinking to figure just when it was appropriate to commit to a flight. Four and a half hours in the cargo bay of a four-engine Russian jet was made endurable by comfy airline seats and “Pretty Woman” playing on the big screen -with subtitles- (the IL76 is a noisy ride). The captain brought us through somewhat murky conditions to a perfect landing on the blue ice runway of Union Glacier. It was cold, windy, cloudy and a little raw with blowing snow. A perfect Antarctic day, actually, but we didn’t spend much time taking pictures down at the runway. A souped-up van with big tires took us on an ice road over to Union Glacier Camp where we were warmly welcomed and given a briefing and tour. After a great bowl of soup and an excellent dinner, we ventured out to build our tents. No flights to Vinson tonight, due to the sloppy weather. Nonetheless, it was a very pleasant evening of chatting with other climbers and adventurers from a dozen different countries and of catching up with acquaintances from mountains far and wide.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
On The Map
Just after breakfast we hauled our duffel bags down to the hotel lobby. ALE -our logistics company- weighed each bag and carted them away for packing on the Ilyushin 76 aircraft. Thus freed from the temptation to fiddle with our gear, the team went for a walk along the shore. We visited a few old square rigged ships beached and broken along the shore and looked for whales and/or dolphins out in the wind blown waves.
In the evening, we attended ALE’s briefing/cocktail party to meet the other folks on our flight. There are people going to see the Emperor Penguins at the edge of the continent, some who are bound for the South Pole, in the middle of everything, and a handful of teams joining us on Vinson. Olivia, our contact at ALE, let us know that there was a chance we’d fly out just a few hours following the meeting, so we headed to dinner and crossed our fingers. Things didn’t come together for a fight this evening though, so we relaxed and lingered over our dinner table, telling mountain stories.
We’re optimistic that the morning will be a different story and that we’ll soon be flying south.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Of course I wish I was there with you guys. Have a safe, spectacular climb.
Posted by: Larry Seaton on 11/26/2017 at 8:13 am
As expected, today was an easy day of mountain climbing. We met in the hotel dining room for our introductory strategy session… outlining what steps need to be taken in preparing to fly four and a half hours in a Russian jet and to disembark and go climbing in the remote interior of a frozen continent. Next up were equipment checks to be sure each climber had the necessary gear for the journey. The afternoon was then spent either walking the windy sidewalks tracking down odds and ends in the shops of Punta Arenas, or in simply resting and recuperating from the long flights and time changes we endured. Patagonian weather is living up to its crazy reputation as we had a typical spring mix of rain showers, brilliant sunshine and then ferocious gusts of wind all in any given ten minute period. We braved the elements, going for an early (7PM) dinner in another fine and friendly downtown restaurant and came out to twilight and blissfully reduced winds at 9PM.
Tomorrow we’ll submit our gear for packing on the plane and we’ll enjoy what should be our last day in South America before Vinson.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
We kicked off our Antarctic mountaineering expedition with a walk around the windy streets of Punta Arenas in the far South of Chile. Most of the gang came in on the afternoon flights from Santiago, so stretching legs was crucial following all those uncomfortable hours in the air, the airports and the airliners. We had a nice dinner at La Luna, one of the friendly restaurants just a few blocks from our hotel on the shore of Magellan’s Strait. Turkey wasn’t on the menu, nor was there any cranberry or gravy… and it was five unrelated strangers sitting down to get to know one another. So not your typical Thanksgiving feast, but for that, it was quite nice. It was still plenty light out at 8:30 pm when we walked from the restaurant, a pleasant reminder that we’d switched hemispheres and seasons. Tomorrow we’ll get down to the business of packing and preparing to climb Vinson. Tonight was just for relaxing with new climbing partners.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
Sue: wishing you and the team the best of a excellent weather to conquer Vinson Massif, a prayer for you and please be safe, We still have many more hikes to do together around the world.
Enjoy the beauty of Antarctica y keep warm, proud to be your friend and can’t wait to hear from you and your amazing, priceless adventure
Posted by: Sandra E on 11/26/2017 at 5:25 pm
Thanks for sharing pictures Dave! Those of us left behind are excited each time we see one on the blog. Wishing you all good health and good weather for a safe flight to Antarctica, soon.
Go Team Vinson! From the Butterfield Bunch
Posted by: Vickie Butterfield on 11/25/2017 at 9:10 pm
Update: November 11th, 2:00 pm PT
Buenas Tardes! Our team has safely returned down to Tlachichuca after our climb of Orizaba this morning. It was a beautiful day and a great climb, made even more so by the fact that we were the only people on the entire mountain! What a treat.
Now back in the valley below, we are doing the old duffle shuffle and getting ready to celebrate with a hard earned dinner. Tomorrow we will part ways, but our time in Mexico has been a fantastic adventure.
Transcription of call from the Orizaba summit:
Hello. This is Jake on top of Pico de Orizaba with the crew. We are doing great. We had a beautiful, could not ask for a better style day, today. The winds are light, the sun is out, and we’re going to reverse our path and start heading down soon. It was a great climb, everybody did well, and we’ll be in touch from the lowlands. Alright everybody take care.
RMI Guide Jake Beren calls in from the Pico de Orizaba summit.
On The Map
Our travels so far have been action packed and the team enjoyed a relaxing rest/exploration day yesterday. The colonial city of Puebla is a beautiful place to see the sights and we did a little sleeping in before taking it to the streets. Puebla is a city that certainly felt the effects of the recent earthquake and as you walk around town, you can see folks tending to the damage, repairing walls and buildings. It is remarkable that the damage was not more widespread, but we are all happy to see that the beautiful town of Puebla has survived.
Now we are off to Orizaba! Tonight we will stay in the Piedra Grande hut and begin our climb early tomorrow morning. Wish us luck!
Despite a very blustery morning, we had a great time climbing on Ixta today. We moved through the night under a waning gibbous moon and caught the sunrise from 17,000’ above sea level! The team climbed well, making wise decisions, on a windy day to the cumbre (summit) of Ixta! Now we are relaxing in a hotel in Puebla, enjoying significantly less wind, before heading out to celebrate over dinner. Tomorrow we will rest and relax, getting ready for the big one -Pico de Orizaba on Friday.
On The Map
Buenas noches from our High Camp on Ixta where we are tucked in for the night. The team did great moving up today and with any luck we will be calling from the cumbre. So all is well here. This is Jake and the Mexico crew signing off for the night. Adios
On The Map
This morning we pulled stakes after a great night’s sleep in La Malintzi and made our way toward Ixta. Along the way we explored the little town of Amecameca, registered with the park and double checked our equipment for the climb. Tomorrow we will head uphill, establishing our high camp on Ixta. The team is doing great and after our afternoon walk, we plan to feast and do our best to duplicate last nights slumber in our new home at 13k!
Tomorrow we ride…
RMI Jake Beren and Team
On our drive from Mexico City we were treated to views of La Malinche, Ixta and Pico de Orizaba. Today’s clarity was one for the books and we made the most of it on our first acclimatization hike. One of the advantages of this style of trip is that you can pretty quickly get in position to be at altitude AND get a good night’s rest indoors. After a beautiful hike through the “arboles ponderosicas” we made it to some lounging at our cabana before dinner.
Hope everyone up North is doing great!