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Vinson Massif: Starting slow… Tapering off

Our first Vinson climb of 2013 is not quite off the ground yet.  The team successfully negotiated the airports of the world to assemble in Punta Arenas in the South end of Chile, and we’ve gone through several meetings, gear checks and briefings.  We’ve shared a few great meals and some walks around town.  We’ve packed our bags and weighed them and consigned them to our logistical partner in this endeavor, ALE, for loading onto the Ilyushin 76 jet transport.  Normally, we’d be savoring a final night indoors before the journey to less comfortable regions of the Antarctic interior.  But we’ve learned that stormy weather is hampering flight operations at Union Glacier.  The needed supply flights are backed up a bit and we can’t possibly get in within the next few days.  We choose to greet this news in a positive light… It gives us the chance to be tourists in Patagonia for a few days.  Stand by to see what we get up to.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Dave and Team -

Hi Guys!  I will be following you on your journey to get an idea of what to expect when I arrive there in a couple of weeks.

-Larry Seaton

Posted by: Larry Seaton on 11/22/2013 at 6:52 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Visit Patagonia

Poor conditions for flying continue to delay the start of our Antarctic expedition.  Reports were that snow was in the forecast for Union Glacier.  It is already a bit of a tricky proposition to land a large four engine jet transport on an ice runway in the interior of the continent, and so we put up no objections to our logistics company’s plan to push back departure.

But of course, Punta Arenas, the jumping off point for our Vinson climb, is coincidentally the jumping off point for exploring the beauty of Patagonia.  We rented some cars and left Punta at midday, driving up to Puerto Natales.  The sky was pretty well choked with cloud, but we could still make out the foundations of great snowy mountains in the distance, across wide open and windswept prairies.  A great many unidentified raptors and other beautiful birds were playing and hunting along the road.  We saw no shortage of sheep.  Tomorrow, our intention is to enter Torres Del Paine National Park to sight see and hike.  We’ll keep the main goal -to climb to Antarctica’s highest point- firmly in our thoughts, but in the meantime we’ll open our eyes to some of the beauty of South America.

Best Regards,

RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Vinson Massif: Patagonia Distraction

Bad flying weather continues in Antarctica, so we focused on a more accessible continent.  The day clearly called for an 18 km round-trip hike up to Mirrador del Torres in Torres del Paine National Park.  The “Mirrador” in question was the glacial lake held under the iconic granite towers.  In our journey up from Puerto Natales, we saw condors and gauchos, glaciers and mountains, guanacos and turquoise windswept lakes. 

We walked through lush forests and up through jumbles of massive white boulders to reach the lake and an unparalleled view of the massive rock cliffs.  We gained and lost in excess of 2,500 feet in six hours of hiking… The perfect tune up for Vinson

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back in Punta Arenas

We ended our pre-climb road trip today, cruising back to Punta Arenas from Puerto Natales.  Things haven’t progressed a great deal on the logistical front.  We were invited around to a social gathering at the offices of ALE, where we met and mingled with the other passengers on our hoped-for flight.  In addition to the climbing teams, there were several groups intent on going overland to the South Pole by various means.  We were hosted by the friendly staff and directors of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions.  One of the directors, Mike Sharp, gave a brief talk and slideshow as to the weather outlook and the chances for flying in the next few days.  There are possibilities.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Vinson Massif Expedition:  Team Explores Punta Arenas

There was some reason for hope today for getting the Antarctic flights rolling.  But in the end the better weather didn’t quite materialize.  We didn’t waste much time fretting over the situation though.  The team rallied after leisurely breakfast coffees (extending well into the afternoon) and set off on an urban hike.  At least it began as an urban hike, through the streets of Punta Arenas, accumulating stray dogs as we went along, but after about an hour of hard walking we worked our way into the countryside.  The wind was howling and the clouds were covering sun and sky, but we persevered.  Ultimately we found ourselves in park-like surroundings, climbing the ski area overlooking town.  At the top we were two thousand feet higher and about 7.5 miles from our lodging.  We still had one stray dog and about fifty miles per hour of wind, to go along with an unexpectedly grand view of Punta and the whitecaps of the Straits of Magellan.
We were back down to the waterfront and the friendly tourist restaurants by early evening, celebrating another fine summit together.
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Hello team!
I’m grateful for your blog, so I know what is going on with my friend Kara! I’m sorry the weather has not cooperated so you can kick off your expedition, but you have a great attitude about it since its beyond your control. Safety first! Maybe you can have a proper Thanksgiving meal after all! I’ll stay tuned to read about your adventures. Fingers crossed for a break in the weather!
Take care, Dixie

Posted by: Dixie Trunko on 11/27/2013 at 6:53 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Spend Another Day in Punta Arenas

Another day closer to the one we fly on… But not noticeably.  The weather in Punta Arenas -which is not the problem for flying to Antarctica- was just slightly ridiculous today.  Rain and snow showers alternated with sun and wind bursts, over and over again.  We still got in some great walks, going south to the wreck of The Lord Lonsdale… a great hulking steel square rigger, beached and evocative of bygone eras.  We sampled coffee shops and dining spots.  We waited patiently.  Conditions at Union Glacier are not yet good… But they will be soon enough and we will go climbing.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Vinson Massif Expedition:  Team thankful for flight!

It is looking like we will have much to give thanks for today.  The flight to Union Glacier is on!  We are on the bus leaving town for the airport now, all bundled in Antarctic clothing.  I hope to send the next update from the ice.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Kare Kare!!

Thinking of you and your team out there! I was in SD and Flo was complaining about the cold and I said just think of Kara and stop whining! Then I came back to Denver and its been between 7-11 today and supposed to be -1 tonight so now I have to think about you and wish you a warm and snuggly night! Sounds like the weather cleared for you guys a bit. I will keep my fingers crossed for a great climb! xoxox miss ya! Can’t wait for Park City!

Posted by: Farah Hedwig on 12/4/2013 at 1:55 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Touchdown on Union Glacier

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from Antarctica. We made our flight through the night. We left Punta Arenas around 11:40 p.m. and flew down through the dark, until reaching the daylight of Antarctica. We landed at about 4:15 this morning at Union Glacier. Beautiful landing and we are in Union Glacier Camp. We haven’t gone out to Vinson, it’s probably not gonna happen today. But we are keeping our fingers crossed for tomorrow. We’ve got our tents up and we are sleeping in to recover from the night of flying. But all is well, and we’ll get you a regular dispatch when possible.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn


Dave Hahn calls in after landing on Union Glacier.

On The Map

That is so amazing with the call-in report.  What will RMI think of next.  (Live video stream?)  I like that.

Posted by: Mary on 11/30/2013 at 9:29 am


Vinson Massif Expedition: On ice, which is nice

Good things come to those who wait.  At 20 minutes to midnight yesterday, with the Southern Cross shining down on Punta Arenas, we left the continent.  We were shoehorned into the cavernous cargo compartment of the Ilyushin 76 airplane, along with about fifty other passengers, a pickup truck and a mountain of gear and supplies.  The flight took about four and a half hours and was almost completely lacking in any noticeable turbulence.  We passed time by reading, listening to music and simply snoozing. 
With about thirty minutes to go, everybody began layering up, tying boots, and pulling on hats and face masks.  With perhaps 15 minutes to go, the flight crew turned on a new feature, a big screen TV with the outside view from the nose of the plane.  It was absolutely spectacular, like a clip from “Frozen Planet” or “Planet Earth”.  Surreal beauty, until we felt the wheels under our seats touching the ice surface in the picture.  Then it became real as the engines roared to slow the plane. 
After the perfect landing, we marched out into the middle of Antarctica.  After some photo-ops and handshakes, we shuffled over to a warming hut and then into a modified van for a ride across the glacier on giant tires.
It wasn’t to be as far as getting straight out to Vinson Basecamp.  Weather there wasn’t suitable for a Twin-Otter flight, so after an early morning welcome meal, we built our tents and crashed for a few hours.  The weather slowly deteriorated during the day, with cloud building up and light snow falling.  That didn’t stop us from spending a few hours out in late afternoon to review rope techniques.  We rounded out the first day with an excellent dinner and an evening spent chatting with various adventurers on exotic missions on ice. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Glad you are finally able to get down to some serious business.  Cheers.

Posted by: Mary on 11/30/2013 at 9:22 am


Vinson Massif Expedition: Nothing Flying

We got a chance to enjoy an Antarctic storm today.  It wasn’t one for the record books, no epic, not particularly special.  Just a fair amount of cloud, snow, blowing snow and persistent wind.  In other words, it was a “no fly” day.  It sounded like Vinson Basecamp was reporting similarly bad weather at their end.  At first we thought we might be able to spend the day reviewing climbing techniques, but then the wind picked up and it became an indoors day.  So we passed time in the mess tent, getting to know some of the people who will try to visit Emperor Penguin colonies and speaking to those who will try to either bike, ski or walk to the South Pole.  It was a day for reading and writing and resting.  Perhaps tomorrow we’ll get to fly out to Mount Vinson. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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