Entries By dave hahn

Vinson Massif: The Waiting is Over!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Jeff Martin | December 08, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

The waiting is over! We got the call at 7:30 this morning that it was a go. We needed to be ready by 8:00 for the shuttle to the airport. By the time we got to the airport, the crew was already making final flight preparations, and an hour later we were ready for takeoff.
Next stop will be Union Glacier where the team will be met by Dave Hahn. Dave will write the next dispatch once they arrive on the ice.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

Preparing to fly to Union Glacier. Photo: RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Arrive Back to Union Glacier

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | December 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

The team had a relaxing and slow morning at Vinson Basecamp.  Many commented on how good it had been to sleep well and warm once again.  Life at Basecamp seemed a million times easier than it had before we climbed the mountain.  However, yesterday’s predictions and proclamations that we’d shuttle from airplane to airplane and from continent to continent… were overly optimistic.  We did succeed -in late afternoon- in catching a twin otter out of VBC.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the high mountains of the Sentinel Range were spectacular whereas they’d been cloaked in murk when we flew in.  Union Glacier camp was even cushier than VBC, naturally, and so nobody expressed great frustration when it was announced that the Ilyushin 76 would not be coming today due to deteriorating weather.  We’re plenty happy for the moment, sitting in chairs and eating food that guides didn’t cook.  The gang wouldn’t mind flying tomorrow though… We’ll see.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Passing over Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection

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Vinson Massif: Team Plays the Waiting Game in Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn, Jeff Martin | December 07, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Hello,
Well, the phone call we got this morning was not the one we wanted. The news was that the flight was not going to happen and that the next scheduled update would be at 7:30 pm. The winds at both Punta Arenas and Union Glacier were too high.
We made great use of the day despite the flight being delayed. We took a tour of Fuerto Bulnes, the first establishment in this area, founded in 1834. It is about 35 miles east of Punta Arenas and plays a very important part in this area’s history. After some lunch we did a short walking tour of the city’s cemetery which is filled with beautiful mausoleums.  While a bit on the side of eerie, it was well worth it.
We were back at the hotel early and ready for the next update. When the call came, they said that the wind gusts in the last hour (53 knots) at the airport were a little too high, but they would call back in an hour and give us another update. The next call came as promised and while the winds diminished at the airport, the relative humidity at Union Glacier had increased 82%, and the flight was not going to happen tonight.
So the waiting game continues and we will start the process again tomorrow morning with the 7:30 am update. Hopefully tomorrow will be our day to fly.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

The mountains await. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back to Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

The day dawned clear and sunny again but with wind tossing a little snow around up high.  We ate a farewell breakfast at high camp and got packing.  The team was roped up by 11:15 AM and ready to climb down.  Considering our heavy packs, the long and steep fixed rope section went quite well.  With no particular difficulty we reached low camp and got busy shuffling and resorting gear, food and garbage for hauling sleds on the lower mountain.  Travel was easy then, on a well-packed snow trail and we reached Vinson Base by 4:30 PM.  Up went the tents, one more time.  Although the weather was fine for flying, ALE’s planes were elsewhere and engaged with other missions.  We are told that prospects are excellent tomorrow for getting not only to Union Glacier but all the way to Punta Arenas, Chile.  If that holds, then perhaps JJ’s steak dinner over camp stoves tonight was our last meal together.  If so, it was an excellent and peaceful gathering.  We’ve shared success and plenty of hard work these past weeks.  The team loved hearing the “blog comments” that the RMI office emailed to us (we don’t have the ability to surf the web ourselves).  It helped a great deal to know so many were following our progress.  Thank You. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

An RMI Team looking up at the mountain from Low Camp. Photo: Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Next Team is Ready to Meet Dave Hahn at Union Glacier

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 06, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Greetings,
Today was another fairly relaxed day for us. We had taken care of all our packing and last minute shopping yesterday, so we were ready for the “weigh in” at 11:30. ALE, the company in charge of all the flight logistics, came to the hotel to weigh and collect all our checked baggage for the flight tomorrow. It will be loaded into the plane tonight and be ready to go whenever we get the green light.
We had our flight briefing at the ALE office at 5:00 pm. All the passengers (climbers and skiers) were there, about 45 total, to learn about the procedures for flying to Antarctica. As you might guess, this is definitely not a normal flight.  It’s a cargo plane. There are no window seats, overhead bins, or cabin crew. The plane was built for only two reasons, hauling cargo and landing in “off strip” runways. And a blue ice runway in the interior of Antarctica definitely qualifies as “off strip”.
At the airport in Punta Arenas, we will board the plane in 40-45 degree temperatures, wearing or carrying our Antarctica clothing. The flight, about 3000 kilometers, takes about 4 1/2 hours, and when you de-plane, you are literally on a different continent, but more importantly, it is one of the coldest and remote places in the world. When you step outside, the temperature will be about -15 degrees Fahrenheit at Union Glacier. And that does not include any windchill.
We got a flight update tonight at 7:30 pm. Tomorrow morning, they will get an updated weather report from Union Glacier at 7:00 am and after reviewing the new information, will call us between 7:30 and 8:30 am. If the weather looks good, they will give us a flight time with about 30 minutes to get ready for the shuttle to the airport. If there is any concern about the weather, they will give us the time for the next weather update. Hopefully the first call we get is the call to get ready, that the flight is a go.
We have already had dinner and are back at the hotel. We wanted to have an early night in anticipation of the big day tomorrow. We’ll keep you posted.

Best,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

The plane preparing for the flight to Union Glacier. Photo: RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif: December 3rd Vinson Team Arrives in Punta Arenas, Chile

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Greetings from Chile,

RMI’s third Vinson Massif Expedition of the season has arrived in Punta Arenas. While the team arrived as scheduled, two bags failed to make a connection somewhere along the way. Fortunately, after a few phone calls and some patience, they showed up at the hotel late this afternoon.
There was not a lot on the itinerary today except to get our gear ready for the flight on Sunday. It will be picked up tomorrow morning and taken to the plane and loaded ahead of time. So we went through the equipment list one last time making sure nothing was forgotten. We then went shopping to round out our lunch food for the expedition. The team is ready to fly south!
The rest of the afternoon was free to enjoy the sights of a new city and to just relax after the many miles travelled to get here.
We finished the day at La Marmita, one of the best restaurants in town.

Best regards,
RMI Guide Jeff Martin

Vast views across the ocean from Punta Arenas, Chile.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | December 05, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 16,067'

We went for it today.  The weather was greatly improved.  The clouds were gone, but there were still dust devils of snow twisting off the ridges as we watched from high camp.  Obviously, we hoped for a calming trend as the day went on.  One of our climbers stayed in camp, satisfied with yesterday’s effort.  This worked out as there were two ALE “rangers” also in camp along with a guided group taking a rest day.  The rest of us set out at 10:37 AM.  We were in still air for the first hour, but then we went through a few gusty portions of the route for several hours.  The fact that the winds weren’t sustained didn’t mean they were any warmer.  We bundled up pretty good in down coats and pants and tried hard to keep our faces from freezing.  By about 15,000 ft, we’d reached a calm area, which was a great relief as the mountain was getting tough to climb even without a distracting wind.  Most were working quite hard to compensate for the lack of oxygen and the steepening snow and ice.  As we worked our way out the 16,000 ft summit ridge, we found the wind again.  This made it tough to enjoy the view of the Ellsworth Mountains spread for two hundred miles around and below us.  We walked onto the mountain top at 10 minutes to 6 PM.  Excited, but also very much on our guard against frostbite.  We took a bare minimum of pictures, did quick but heartfelt hugs, handshakes and high fives, and then beat feet out of there.  We were safely back in high camp by 8:45 PM. 

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The winds begin to pick up as an RMI Team heads toward the summit of Mt. Vinson  Photo: Jake Norton/First Ascent Climbers on the summit ridge of Mt. Vinson. Photo: RMI Collection An RMI Team on summit day on Mt. Vinson.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Awesome!!!!! Congratulations on an amazing feat! Can’t wait to see pictures, Haldis!
Best wishes for the rest of your trip!

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Posted by: Kristin H. on 12/5/2014 at 10:10 pm

CONGRATULATIONS! Wish the weather had been better for you. Kind of a shame to make it and then not be able to really enjoy the view. Oh well, guess you… read more

Posted by: Monica Glasenapp on 12/5/2014 at 9:58 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team - If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | December 04, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 12,150'

We were fresh out of good weather today.  Ran out sometime during the night.  By morning, the high peaks were capped with wind-sculpted clouds and things had a decidedly unstable look.  We procrastinated…ate breakfast and watched the progression of cloud formations.  We got a weather forecast from Vinson Basecamp around noon, and decided to go for a walk.  The thinking was that we’d be climbing in relative calm for several hours, in which time the day could turn sparkly and fine. That isn’t what happened though.  After a couple of hours and perhaps 1,300 feet of vertical gain, we were in wind and cloud… The times when we were granted better visibility, we could see more wind and cloud up higher.  Ultimately, the decision was made that -with the “normal” cold temperatures (-15 to -20 F) we were enjoying, we couldn’t fight against very much wind.  We turned back to high camp, intent on waiting out this non-storm.  The gang cut snow blocks to beef up the tent walls and we dug in just in case a real storm shows up.  We are hopeful that morning will bring better things. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Climbers ascending the fixed lines on Vinson. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Ready To Go

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | December 03, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 12,150'

Our luck with the weather continues.  It was another perfectly calm, blue-sky, sunny day on Mount Vinson.  We took full advantage, moving up from Low Camp to High Camp.  It is plenty of work to break camp and hit the trail in this cold environment.  This “morning” it took us about 2.5 hours.  We were walking by 1:45 PM.  We had the advantage today that we were all familiar with the route and the fixed ropes -thanks to our carry on the same terrain two days ago.  This time we shaved about forty five minutes off, reaching 12,150 ft High Camp in five hours and fifteen minutes.  We set to building camp and digging in, which took a few more hours of hard work, but eventually we were all sitting face to face in a freshly excavated dining room.  We talked over exactly how summit day might work out for tomorrow.  After dinner, the team pitched in to build some snow-block walls, just in case the wind comes up.  Then folks wandered about a hundred feet west to look over the edge.  It is a stunning view, peering over this dramatic and abrupt escarpment to see almost every footstep we’ve made to date.  In the distance, the Nimitz Glacier is prominent and beyond that it seems that we can see forever on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  The team went to bed ready to go for the top, we’ll see if our weather luck holds.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Ascending to High Camp on Mount Vinson.  Photo: RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry to High Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn, JJ Justman | December 01, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

We knew it was going to be a cold morning here at Low Camp, the sun doesn’t make it around the mountain until 11:15 AM, but it was still somewhat shockingly cold.  True, we are in 24-hour daylight, but any shadow reminds you very quickly what the actual air temperature is.  We ate breakfast and put our crampons on for a day of carrying loads as we warmed up in the sun.  Before too long, we’d begun the fixed rope section of climbing on the way to high camp.  This section of steep and continuously firm snow meant that the day would be about vertical gain and not a great deal about distance covered.  It took six hours to make it the 3,500 ft to high camp, which sits at 12,500 ft.  Since it was perfect, cloudless weather, we could see forever as we got higher.  But what we could see was ice, ice and more ice.  Our timing was perfect, pulling into high camp just as Linden Mallory and his small team were getting there after their summit.  Todd Passey, ALE’s guide, was in camp with his team as well and very generously shared cups of hot water with the gang.  We cached food and fuel there and then got moving back toward Low Camp, which we reached at 11 PM.  It was a big day, finished off with a midnight supper in the POSH tent.  Our climbers were excited for the new vistas, but also for the great sense of accomplishment in getting such a tough day under our belts. We’ll rest tomorrow, and hope to move up the following day. 

Best,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Climbers approaching High Camp on the Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn

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