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RMI Expeditions Blog


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait at Low Camp for Better Weather

We thought we were moving up to High Camp today.  No dice.  It was too windy up high.  Although it was sunny and calm where we stood at Low Camp, we could see big streamers of snow jetting out from the ridge we wanted to be on.  We packed up about halfway anyway and ate breakfast watching to see if things eased.  Radio communications with the teams already at High Camp confirmed that it was miserable and cold up there and that they were just in hunker-down-and-wait mode.  We did the same, without the misery.  If anything, the wind got a little worse in the early afternoon, chasing snowy dust devils all the way to the base of the fixed ropes.  We thought for a time that the wind might work on over to Low Camp, but we were spared.  The afternoon did get a bit cold though when the sun ran into a high stationary cloud sitting west of the mountains. My team took it all in stride, retreating to books and sleeping bags for a second rest day.  In other places, such winds wouldn’t be a big deal and you could push on through, but with the colder temperatures we deal with down here, there’d be too much chance of frostbite and hypothermia.  We’ll wait for a better day. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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Ecuador’s Volcanoes: Gately & Team Arrive in Quito and Explore the Sites

The team is all here in Quito! We began our day by enjoying our breakfast along side an abundant spread of fresh fruit and overloading on coffee while we made some group introductions. We had a number of stops during our city tour, some of the highlights include visiting the Equator monument, a panoramic view of Quito from the top of Panecillo Hill, the colonial Center and touring some of the historical churches. Today in Quito is the celebration of the capital’s foundation so many shops were closed and the plazas were busier than normal with locals celebrating the holiday. We are back at the hotel for a quick siesta before we head out together for dinner. This evening we will prepare our day packs for our first acclimatization hike up to Rucu Pichincha and we are hoping for the clear, sunny skies we had this morning so we can get our first view of Cotopaxi and Cayambe!

RMI Guides Steve Gately & Bryan Mazaika

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Have a Sedentary Day at Camp

Today was perfect from start to finish.  Perfect for resting and catching up on our acclimatization and hydration.  It was another cloudless and windless day, at Low Camp -that is- our radio check-in with basecamp revealed that they were in fog down below.  But we had fine weather and a forecast for more of the same.  We had a leisurely breakfast followed by prolonged snacking and napping.  The troops were instructed to down a few liters each of water as their primary chore for the day.  After a couple of longer, tougher days, this was a welcome change and we hope the rest sets us up well for the move to higher altitude tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry Loads to Top of Ropes

As expected, when the sun went behind the mountain at Low Camp last night around 3 AM, the temperature took a dive.,.  probably down around zero F.  It made it past the mountain again at 10:30 this morning, making it just about ten times easier to get out of our sleeping bags and unzip the tents to begin the day.  We went for a carry up the fixed lines to 11,500 ft today.  Shifting gears a bit, yesterday it was dragging sleds and using ski poles, today it was crampons and ice axes and no sleds.  We got going at about 1:40 and hit the top of the ropes at 7PM.  It was a fine day for climbing with nothing but blue skies and calm and still conditions, which made it a little easier to concentrate on good techniques for climbing continuously steep snow.  We carried food and supplies for our summit push and cached at the top of the lines, basically at the beginning of the long, tilted summit plateau.  Descent back to Low Camp took us two hours.  It was nice, after the last few days, to come into an existing camp.  It didn’t take too long to get dinner and a bunch of water for drinking.  We’ll rest tomorrow, which also makes it easier to relax tonight. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Thanks Dave for the everyday updates, reading what all you guys doing in that amazing place inspired me to do one trip with you in the future, Sue enjoy every minute there and if can take lots of pictures.
Good luck to all and be safe.

Posted by: Sandra E Sanchez on 12/5/2017 at 5:23 pm

Best wishes to the entire group.  Thanks for this blog so we can follow the groups progess and keep some peace knowing Sue is in good hands.

Posted by: Rosalee Lustig on 12/5/2017 at 12:56 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry to Low Camp

It was nice to wake up at Vinson Basecamp.  We started the stoves at 8:30 AM when it was nice and sunny, but still a little chilly with cold air flowing gently down the glacier.  The consensus was for moving lock-stock-and-barrel up to Low Camp but we had a fair bit of organizing and packing to do first.  We took a break from it all for a time and went to sit with ALE’s basecamp manager, Darren, while he briefed us on current route conditions, communication schedules, etc.  At 2:20 we were ready to roll and went slowly out of basecamp, roped together, carrying heavy packs and dragging heavy sleds.  It was a beautiful day, but we were a little surprised when a layer of cloud formed up.  That ended up being a good thing though as without it we’d have baked in the sunshine.  The terrain wasn’t so complicated or difficult for the most part but the couple of hills we had to chug up got everybody’s attention.  Crevasses were lurking, but we had good route conditions and no dicey bridges to cross.  We pulled into 9,200 ft at 8:20 PM as expected, and set to work getting situated at Low Camp. The cloud cover was kind enough right then to go away, giving us nice warm sunshine and big views of Shinn and Epperly, the next spectacular peaks to Vinson’s north.  And with full visibility we could crank our necks to see Vinson’s giant western rock escarpment towering about a vertical mile above us.  We ate a late supper and headed to bed, still in strong sunshine… we should get it until about 3 AM here.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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Dave, Thanks for each descriptive blog and for the summit route map. We are following along on Google Earth. We were surprised to see out to the right of base camp on Google Earth…ski tracks. Hoping you have a beautiful day tomorrow! Say hi to Steve from the Butterfield Bunch.

Posted by: Vickie Butterfield on 12/4/2017 at 9:41 pm

Help me understand why they do cross directly from first blue marker to path to red marker.  I don’t have a map or able to tell what obstruction is in your way.  So from uneducated view it looks like you took a longer route.  Please this is not a critic of effort just would like to know.

Posted by: keith on 12/4/2017 at 12:11 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Arrive At Vinson Base Camp

Good things come to those who wait.  We got out of good old Union Glacier Camp at about a quarter to five this afternoon.  The weather was beautiful at Union and clearing at Vinson for much of the day. Our Twin Otter flight through the Ellsworth Mountains was an absolute delight.  For forty five minutes we cruised through jagged crags and over gigantic glaciers.  Ice and/or mountains stretched to every horizon.  The mountains got progressively higher as we approached Vinson and at 5:30 we touched down ever so gently at basecamp on the Branscomb Glacier.  We were busy enough then, unloading gear and building a camp, but we stopped every few minutes to stare in wide-eyed wonder at our surroundings.  The western escarpment of Vinson rises a dramatic 2000 meters just a few miles away, And down below our 7000 ft home, the Branscomb pours into the larger-still Nimitz Glacier.  With our sleeping tents up and secure, we dug a deluxe living room in the snow and topped it with a cook tent.  We sparked up our stoves and then sat down for a late but great meal… not quite as great as the fine food served up at Union all of this last week, but it is possible we enjoyed it more for finally being in the right place after such a long journey.  It is now 1AM, the sun is shining brilliantly -although it will dip behind the mountain in another hour and introduce us to real cold in a hurry.  We’ll figure tomorrow’s plan, carrying or moving, when we s7ee how the night treats everybody. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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YES!.. Today was the day! We are all thrilled that you are finally at base camp. Rather you just carry tomorrow or move, may you all be healthy, strong, and safe. Summit of Vinson, here they come.. Yeah!! Vickie

Posted by: Vickie Butterfield on 12/2/2017 at 10:04 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Another Day at Union Glacier Camp

There was some reason for optimism today.  Even though we woke to the same old clouds with light snowfall, the forecasters called for clearing… which is what we got.  But that took a good chunk of the day, and ultimately the weather turned out to be not up to snuff at the other end.  So we saw sun and felt a little warmth and finally got a great view of the jagged mountains all around us, but Vinson Basecamp ended up in fog.  That is a dealbreaker when you aim to fly over in a Twin Otter on skis in order to land uphill on a valley glacier at 7,000 feet. 
We passed the day playing games and reading, some attended a history lecture dealing with the 1897 Belgian Expedition -the members of that trip had a few significant weather delays as well.  We each went outside from time to time in order to stretch, walk and ride bikes around camp.  Dinner was still quite pleasant, even as we had to give up on this particular day for starting our climb. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Steve, Let today be the DAY!! Can you hear us on the other side of the world, cheering in a bright, beautiful, sunny day at the Vinson Massif Base camp? We are! Love Vickie

Posted by: Vickie Butterfield on 12/2/2017 at 9:21 am

Hang in there Sue and team. The weather will soon smile on you!

Posted by: Norm Symonds on 12/2/2017 at 5:35 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team’s Snow Day

Not so much change today.  Clouds and murk.  We still got up and came to breakfast smiling.  We engaged in a vicious scrabble showdown, spewing two-letter-words and bingos.  After lunch we marched out into the falling snow and slight breeze.  We cruised the now-familiar 10k loop, on foot.  It took about two hours with the new snow a little squishy -like beach sand- underfoot.  Despite the cool conditions we each warmed up pretty thoroughly.  There was still time for resting and mingling with the other inmates before dinner.  Afterward, we played a few more games and talked a bit more about the weather.  Some went to see a movie about overwintering on the Antarctic continent.  Most folks are optimistic that we’ll get a break from winter tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Thinking about you Sue, and all your fellow climbers!  Sending best wishes and prayers for the weather to break, so your adventure continues!  So proud of all!  WOW!!  You are in ANTARTICA!!  I am thrilled to say I know someone climbing in Antartica!! Stay warm, enjoy your games… and the peacefulness that surrounds you!  WOW! We can’t wait to hear all about your adventures!
Big hug and love… your Alaskan buddies…Patty and Sally

Posted by: Sally on 12/1/2017 at 10:25 am

I was feeling a little sorry for all of you being stuck at Union Glacier until I heard you had a Scrabble game there.  Who knew???  Did anybody play quixotic for a triple triple with bingo?  You better pack the Scrabble game for when you get weathered in at base camp after you summit.  By the time you get this we’re thinking you will be on your way to Vinson.  Keep smiling and climb strong!
Mom and Pop

Posted by: Les Zimmerman on 12/1/2017 at 5:38 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Continue Training and Waiting

Not much change for us today… clouds and murk, no flying.  But we are holding up just fine, in any case.  We passed the morning demonstrating crevasse rescue techniques -without the crevasses.  Then, just to get the blood flowing, we hiked out to “the Christmas tree” a plywood and fabric landmark 2.5 kilometers down the snow road in the direction of the ice runway.  Although technically still on standby for flying to Vinson, we mostly just kicked back and relaxed in the afternoon as snow clouds encroached and visibility diminished.  The evening program consisted of a slideshow by David Hamilton -one of ALE’s guides- detailing his ski traverse of the Austrian Alps.  Forecasts call for an end to this storm… some day soon.  We’ll be ready. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Love you Daddio (Steve)! I so wish I was with you! Enjoy the adventure; I know you will~xo, Michelle

Posted by: Michelle Butterfield on 11/30/2017 at 6:19 pm

Praying for a good weather until that opportunity enjoy the beauty and solitude .
Have a great days Sue!!!!

Posted by: Sandra E on 11/30/2017 at 12:51 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Remain in Union Glacier Waiting for Better Weather

Different day… but same old weather.  Our team went to bed last night inspired by a film shown in the dining tent.  Austrian extreme skiers in camp played their award winning film on a pioneering adventure to the mountains of Siberia.  The night was calm, but cloudy again… as was the morning.  Chances for flying never seemed to increase as the day proceeded, so we concerned ourselves instead with reviewing our rope rescue techniques and checking out our avalanche beacons.  In the flat light after lunch we borrowed fat-tired bikes and rode the 10k loop in order to get heart-rates up and leg muscles pumped.  In late afternoon we simply rested and read books, biding our time -along with the forty or fifty other folks that were on our Ilyushin flight from Punta.  This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon when it comes to mountaineering in Antarctica, so we are just rolling with it, relaxing and enjoying the hospitality and comforts of Union Glacier Camp.  Weather sounds a little worse out at the Vinson end of things. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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