RMI Expeditions Blog
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
Ice season is almost upon us here in Bozeman, Montana with many other U.S. ice destinations soon to follow. I find it very difficult to train for ice climbing this time of year - you want to get comfortable on your tools again, but there isn’t any ice forming yet. These are a few of my favorite pre-season workouts that can get you stronger before you get to swing those picks into a column of ice.
First, I say any climbing is better than no climbing. The rock gym can be a great place to start building upper body strength, balance, and grip strength. I usually warm up by pulling on plastic for an hour or so, mostly easy to moderate routes with two or three that really push me. The goal is to get a little pumped but not so spent that I can’t do a workout after. I take 10-15 minutes to cool down, drink some water, get out of my climbing gear, and transition to the weights.
When I am training specifically for ice climbing I focus most of my efforts on forearms and triceps with some shoulder and bicep work to stay balanced. In my opinion, the best exercises mimic the actual motions done in ice climbing. So, my first go-to ice climbing workout is simply to grab a light dumbbell, 6-12lbs, and hold it like you would an ice tool. If you can watch yourself in the mirror it can help to make sure you maintain good form. Loosely hold the weight in one hand and cock it back over your shoulder, keep your wrist, elbow, and shoulder all in line, and slowly swing the weight like you would an ice tool. Finish with the wrist flick so the weight is just in front of your body, I like to keep my other hand touching my elbow, which helps to encourage good form.
Dead hangs are another great exercise you can do almost anywhere. If you can use your tools that’s the best; I put the picks of both ice tools over a pull-up bar, grab both tools, and hang with elbows slightly bent for 10 seconds. If you are doing it correctly your shoulders should be engaged. I try to draw my shoulder blades towards each other. Do this for 10 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 10 rounds; that is one set for me, and I try to do 3 sets per workout. Don’t push yourself and tweak a shoulder though, or all this training is for nothing. Start with what makes sense for you and then slowly add repetitions, sets, or increase the time of each dead hang. I often integrate sets into my whole workout so I don’t get too bored.
Next: pull-ups. Find out what your max is and then go for 50-80% of that for three sets. If 10 pull-ups is your threshold, do three sets of 5-8. Try to increase this number over time. Again I mix these into the whole workout so that I have some time to recover.
There are a number of great exercises for grip strength and forearms; I constantly switch it up. The standing bar – rope - weight workout is a great one. With a small bar, stick, or dowel, tie a 5-foot rope to the center and a weight on the other end of the rope. With your arms straight out in front of you slowly twist the bar in your hands to wrap the rope up and lift the weight then reverse the motion to lower it back to the ground. Maintain good form and keep your arms parallel to the ground.
Another forearm workout that I really like is to grab two dumbbells of moderate weight, 5-15 lbs, and hold one in each hand. Slowly I let the weights roll down my palm and fingers until they are close to falling out of my hands and then bring them back up. The first few will leave you asking, “what is the point of this?” by rep 20 you will be screaming for mercy.
The plate pinch is both a forearm and grip exercise. Grab two plates, 2.5, 5, or 10lbs, and position them together so the smooth sides face out. Simply pinch them together with one hand and let them hang by your side. You are going for time here, see how long you can hold it first and then aim for three sets in each hand. Gradually add more and more time over a few weeks. Finally, another fantastic grip strength workout is a spring or rubber doughnut trainer. I keep one in my car and try to use it at every red light.
These are just a few of the upper body workouts that I use when I am patiently, or not so patiently, waiting for temperatures to drop and ice to start forming. I hope you enjoy these and I look forward to seeing you all out on the ice soon.
Geoff Schellens is a certified AMGA Rock Guide, Apprentice Alpine Guide, and an avid ice climber. He lives in Bozeman, MT, and will be leading an expedition to Denali’s Upper West Rib this spring.
Comments? Questions? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!
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