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RMI Expeditions Blog


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


Mountaineering Training | Training Through the Holidays

Thanksgiving marks the beginning for many of a busy holiday season filled with visiting family, kids home from school, shopping and errands to run, and delicious meals. Busy days entertaining, traveling, or preparing can put pressure on your training time, and the changing weather doesn’t always help either.  Your training plan is important, but during the often stressful holiday season remember that adapting, changing, rescheduling that plan is ok. A missed workout won’t affect your performance six months from now (though missing a week might), and shortening a workout is always better than canceling it completely. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind during the festive times:

Involve your family, friends, and guests: It’s easier to stick to your routine if you can involve others. Find a hike to make a group outing to, and make a day of it. Your guests get to have a nice adventure, stretch their legs, and get a few photos. You get some endurance base training in. If you have to slow the pace a bit, it’s ok; you’re still getting the miles in and improving your endurance base. You can increase your workload by offering to carry the group’s water bottles, jackets, cameras, and other odds and ends.

Use the mornings: Vacations often mean sleeping in, dawdling over a cup of coffee and breakfast, and enjoying time off.  Try waking up 45 minutes earlier than you would and getting out the door for a run, hike, bike, or strength session. If you go to bed with a plan for the morning, it’s easy to get your workout done before anybody else has even gotten out of bed!

Have a few quick go-to workouts: Some days get busy, and the workout you may have planned just doesn’t fit. Having a few 30 – 45-minute workouts in reserve can be the difference between skipping your training entirely, and getting out the door. A couple of ideas are:

  • a yoga session
  • a core strength session
  • short intense intervals (6 x 1minute)
  • a 30-minute tempo run
  • or an easy 45-minute recovery run before the big meal

  • Remember to enjoy it: We head to the mountains because they bring us enjoyment, we spend time with family and friends because it brings enjoyment, and hopefully our training brings a measure of enjoyment as well. If your training regime becomes a chore that you feel like you have to get done, but dread doing, switch things up and spend a couple of days doing activities because you enjoy them rather than for their training benefits. When you find enjoyment in your training, you’ll train harder and more effectively, and it will be easier to get out the door. Similarly, don’t let the stress of fitting in training take away from enjoying the time you spend with friends and family. It is that time of the season after all!
    _____
    Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!


    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


    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

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