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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Leave Antarctica, Head Home

We flew out of Union Glacier at 3:30 AM the day after Christmas, arriving in Punta Arenas at 8 in the morning.  Under ordinary circumstances, we’d have slept the day away and celebrated in the evening with a big dinner.  But we’d enjoyed a fair number of big dinners at Union and my gang had families and lives to get back to.  We showered in town and repacked, had a nice lunch and then headed for the airport again.  Sure enough, we started saying goodbye to each other in airplane aisles and security lines and before long, the five of us were flying in different directions.  We shared plenty on this expedition, and although we were ultimately in different places, I’m positive that we were still sharing exhaustion at the end of 36 hours of constant travel. 
There was plenty of relief at being done, but there were also a thousand new memories of challenges met, storms and delays endured and of five steady companions who got through it all while still laughing and smiling and loving Antarctica. 
Thanks for following our adventure. 

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Spend Christmas in Antarctica, Prepare for Flights Home

As it turns out, it WAS a white Christmas.  Still some clouds and a few flakes in the air this morning, but it was calm and quiet and obviously improving. 

We greeted one another with Merry Christmases and smiles and suggestions that “today could be the day.”  As the sky began to go blue and the sun came out, everybody took to walking around outside… then skiing and biking and simply hanging out and conversing.  It was such a pleasure to see the surrounding mountains again that folks were reluctant to go inside.  The decision was still to be made concerning the Ilyushin, but there was plenty to do as we waited.  There were outings in the camp vehicles to surrounding hillsides, there was exercise to be had on the snow roads within camp and as the afternoon went on, there were skydivers to watch.  A group revved up one of the Twin Otters, climbed 10,000 feet overhead, and jumped out.  Twice, with each skydiver landing perfectly in control and on target. 

At our excellent Christmas Dinner, the word came that the flight was on.  The Ilyushin left Punta Arenas at 8 PM and is expected in at half past midnight.  We’ll be in South America by morning.  My team is excited, naturally.  And relieved.  And ready to get back to see loved ones and friends.  But there is also a little sadness at leaving our Antarctic home and friends.  Not exactly what we’d have chosen, but this will definitely be a Christmas to remember. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team’s Christmas Eve in Antarctica

Same weather.  Snow and low cloud.  Nobody went anywhere.  But there is hope that the weather will improve tomorrow and that we’ll fly to South America. 
We had a big brunch at 11 AM and a Christmas procession involving vehicles, costumes, dancing and hot wine.  Then it was lectures and reading and napping as usual.  Dinner was special.  None of us expected to be in Antarctica for Christmas… all of us are, as it turns out.  So we made the most of it.  A great dinner with friends.  And then a suspense filled game of trivia in which our sturdy Vinson team took second place out of six teams.
By night time, it was still snowing, but ever so lightly and the clouds were lifting.  Things may indeed start happening tomorrow. 
Merry Christmas to all at home and we’ll see you soon.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Merry Christmas to you all! It wasn’t the same without you but things happen for a reason. Maybe, for example, it was to form bonds that will never be broken. In any case, the welcome home will have that much more joy. Here’s to getting off the ground tomorrow.

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy on 12/25/2018 at 3:03 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Take a Stroll Around Union Camp

It is possible that someone picked out the shape of the sun behind the clouds today… at some point.  But most of us just saw light snow falling from thick, low, constantly gray skies.  The wind took a break, which certainly made sleeping easier last night.  At breakfast, the notice was already up on a whiteboard “no flights today” with a frowny face after it.  No suspense.  My team made the best of it.  We went out at mid morning for a trudge around the marked 10k course.  It hasn’t been groomed lately, but we found the walking to be manageable without too much sinking in.  Call it a day of walking in beach sand.  With the usual slight danger of freezing one’s face, hands and feet at the beach.
We were back at Union Camp for lunch and afternoon lectures.  Following dinner, ALE guide Rob Smith gave a riveting talk on climbing K2 this past July.
Anybody’s guess as to whether the weather will break to allow a flight tomorrow.  Eddie, the Kiwi cat driver extraordinaire, doubled the height of our already impressive snow wall.  We can handle a small hurricane now. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Please come home to us. We realize you won’t make it for Christmas but you will be in our thoughts. Sending much love.
Kathy

Posted by: Kathy on 12/24/2018 at 12:14 pm

Hang in there Matt! Hope the weather clears soon. Best wishes, Chuck and Leslie

Posted by: Chuck Immel on 12/24/2018 at 10:02 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team - Windy Night and Trivia Day

The wind blew hard last night… all night.  Not hard enough to destroy tents, but hard enough to keep one awake and wondering about destruction.  It died down by morning and we got out under low clouds and lightly falling snow… which didn’t change much for the rest of the day.  It was pretty obviously a no-fly day.  So we ate, we walked, we talked, drank tea and coffee and calculated changes to schedules and itineraries.  There were hints of hopes for flights tomorrow, and then there were notices saying not to get hopes up for tomorrow.  The evening’s activity was a team trivia contest.  Our gang came in third out of four teams and considered it a victory as the contest veered from Antarctic history toward a who’s who in contemporary pop music. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Dear Dave, hang in there! We wish you a flight home soon, when it is safe. Your team is lucky to have you as their leader. Maybe you can get started on your book? Very fondly, Ingrid & Lou

Posted by: ingrid Whittaker on 12/23/2018 at 10:01 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Celebrate the Summer Solstice

When you’re already in twenty four hours of sunlight, it can be a little slippery declaring that this day is longer than the others.  But of course the summer solstice means something more to us at 80 degrees south latitude.  For my gang of climbers, the day would have had far greater significance if it had been the start of our travel homeward. Not so much, as it turned out.  There was a chance though.  It started out snowy and grey and windy and progressed to partly sunny and windy by afternoon.  The Ilyushin Captain was giving the day a thorough revue, but in the end he decided that the amount of blowing snow he’d have to find his way through to reach the runway threshold was unworkable.  The call was made as we sat down to dinner.  By that time we’d done our usual day-long routine of napping, reading, going to lectures and watching the sky.  Of course the announcement was a disappointment, but we are glad the logistics folks are trying so hard to find a hole in this storm. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Enjoy Windless Night, but No Flight

On the good side, it wasn’t windy last night.  The tents were quiet and we got good rest.  On the bad side -from a flying perspective- nothing else changed.  It was still snowing and the clouds were still sitting right down on top of us this morning… and throughout the day.  Nobody went flying.  So the folks in Punta Arenas who were hoping to get in stayed put.  The people at the South Pole wanting to get back to Union didn’t.  The gang out at Vinson ready to go home sat at Base Camp.  The peeps at Union wanting to head to Vinson had to wait.  Those that wanted to go to the Pole did not.  And the five of us intent on escaping Antarctica never had a chance today.  So we took it easy, went for walks and lectures and books.  Ate meals and took naps and read forecasts of more poor weather. 
Basically, we hung in there.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Explore the Wind Scoop

The winds went all night but didn’t cause much damage.  Morning was a familiar mix of grey and greyer with light snow falling.  Nothing was going flying today… too much of a mid-storm feeling to the world.  We ate breakfast and attended lectures for the morning.  After lunch, my gang eagerly showed up for a field trip in the Tucker snow bus.  There were about 18 of us rambling along a flagged and gps-ed ice road in the big tracked vehicle.  The snow storm continued, but we went on instruments to find the “wind scoop” by Mount Charles.  We got out and donned stretchy traction aids to help our boots on the hard blue ice.  We then walked toward an enormous snow and ice formation, the wind scoop carved out by patient and endless winds around the base of an Antarctic mountain.  Simple… except it was also beautiful and primal.  It snowed on us as we walked, and the winds kept up, but every now and then, we could see enough to be impressed and awed by the scale and the relentlessness of ice, snow, wind, sun and rock. 
When we got back to the comfortable dining tent at Union Glacier, it shocked us for a moment that the staff had put up all of the Christmas decorations.  We haven’t given up on getting home for the big event, but dinner with friends in this wild setting was still pretty fun. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

I can’t believe you’re still there!!!

Posted by: Kim k on 12/20/2018 at 7:08 pm

Get home already. Miss your voice. Stay safe and have fun!

Posted by: Beth on 12/20/2018 at 2:38 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Have Moments of Possibility

There was a chance today… had things gone a little differently, we might have left the continent.  The Ilyushin crew were hot to get back in tonight to pull us out before the big storm, but the “window” turned out to not be enough of a window. 
It was a little surreal walking into the dining tent this morning (under cloudy skies and in wind) to find all new people in camp… the marathoners were gone and bunch of South Pole enthusiasts were in.  The immediate effect was that breakfast was easier to come by… those runners were serious at feeding time.  The weather today was mostly in-between.  There were some tranquil moments, but there was also ample sign that it was all going to get worse.  The big question (for us) was whether the relative calm before the fireworks would be calm enough for long enough to get a big plane in and out.  The final call didn’t come until we were finished with dinner… not tonight.  My gang still kept their spirits up… we attended several lectures on Antarctica and the mountains of the world.  We read in the library and mingled in the dining tent.  We smiled at everybody.  As it got a little later, we went out to hold the sleeping tents down in the gathering storm.  We’ve got a big darn snow wall for protection and our tents are perfectly oriented to the prevailing winds.  Still, it will be a long night of frayed nerves as the tent fabric snaps like machine gun fire and the wind howls down off Mount Rossman.  Union Glacier Camp doesn’t normally get such turbulence and truculence at this time of year.  A rare treat for a select audience. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

Praying for each of you on your safe return, and what sounds like some much needed sleep at night. Hurry home Matt B and the rest of the team!!

Posted by: Holly Mitchell on 12/19/2018 at 3:23 am

Hey Dave , Ive been following along everyday. You are all Awesome! Just wondering what is the temp at base camp?

Posted by: Dave Kestel on 12/19/2018 at 3:09 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait for Storm Interval

It was tough to tell the difference this morning… another cloudy, snowy start without the benefit of sun.  But things began to clear by mid morning.  There was that same transformation when people could again see horizons and mountains and when they could walk from tent to tent without pulling on hoods and big gloves. Union Glacier weather was coming around, but apparently it was coming around more slowly in Punta Arenas because the Ilyushin decision was being looked at on an hour to hour basis.  In camp we carried on -attending a lecture on Antarctic Ice, snow and glaciers.  By late afternoon, winds in Union Camp had come up, but they must have dropped in Patagonia because the flight took off at 5:30 PM.  It should be here at 10 PM -in about 20 min.  We spent a pleasant evening with the marathon folks, remembering and commemorating the big race.  They are all packed and ready to be moving again and we are hanging tough and set to be on the following flight. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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