Entries By linden mallory
December 3, 2014
We had a mellow morning at Base Camp today, enjoying the extra time we had to brew up fresh coffee and watch the sun creep across the glacier and bring with it warming temperatures. Not content to hang around for too long, we pulled on our ski boots and headed out for some touring above Vinson Base Camp. The rolling ridge-lines descending from the Massif offer phenomenal skiing and we took full advantage to get out and play. We climbed a couple thousand feet above Base Camp to a small summit and found spectacular views of the surrounding terrain before setting our sights back downhill and skiing some great light Antarctic snow back to camp.
As we were relaxing in the evening we received the call we’d been waiting for: the plane from Union Glacier was on its way to get us. We packed up camp and as we closed the last bag the Twin Otter came in with a soft and smooth landing on the glacier. We said goodbye to Vinson and were soon airborne on our way back to Union Glacier camp, our eyes glued to the windows as we watched the massive landscape of snow, ice, and rock flow by beneath us.
We’re now back at Union Glacier, enjoying the warmth of their large mess tent and keeping our fingers crossed that an Ilyushin flight can come into tomorrow evening to give us a lift back to South America. We’re hoping to spend a few hours checking out the mountains around camp in the morning before getting a weather check about the flight tomorrow midday.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team
On The Map
December 2, 2014
After yesterday’s summit push we were content to lie in the tent a bit longer this morning at High Camp before finally stirring. We brewed up some coffee, that while no match for a good espresso, was a very pleasant touch to the cold but otherwise clear morning, and then set about breaking camp. With all of our gear loaded into our packs, we began descending from High Camp. We reached the top of the fixed lines and spent the next hour working our way down the massive face, carefully transitioning past anchor points until the Branscomb Glacier, once a small ribbon of white below lay underfoot. The descent was uneventful and smooth - just as one would hope when descending an exposed face like that - and another half hour of crossing brought us into Low Camp where Dave Hahn and the other RMI Team were enjoying a rest day.
Dave and JJ were kind enough to brew us up a hot drink and we traded was stories from our trips while we repacked our backpacks and sleds with the gear we had left at Low Camp. With our mugs empty and our packs and sleds full, we wished Dave’s team good luck and warm temperatures on their summit bid and set off down the glacier toward Base Camp. The gradual downhill pitch of the Branscomb and cold hard snow made for a fast descent on skis and we caught ourselves hooting and hollering at times as we cruised down the glacier (which, for anyone familiar with the pain of hauling a fully laden pack and sled down a glacier at the end of an expedition, is highly unusual). By early evening we had navigated the final crevasse field of the Branscomb and were pulling into Base Camp, relieve to be dropping our packs for the last time. After almost a week of moving up and down the mountain we have gotten quite good at setting up camp and within a few minutes we had our tents pitched and our camp shoes on. Tonight we treated ourselves to a special post summit dinner: cheeseburgers which we flew in with us from South America and have kept frozen for this very evening. To top it off, the rangers at Base Camp shared a few beers with us for our meal. Burgers and beer at foot of the Vinson Massif - we truly couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Tomorrow we will look at the flight schedule and weather forecasts to see what our options are for beginning the trek home. We are still a long ways from anywhere and the challenges of getting ourselves out of the middle of Antarctica are not inconsequential. Nevertheless, we’re happy to be down here and hoping for more good luck on the next leg of our journey.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team
On The Map
Glad that everyone is down and enjoying a burger on the ice beach. We have sauce waiting for you. Howie
Posted by: howie mallory on 12/4/2014 at 7:13 am
Love it. Burgers and beer. I know Penn’s happy!
Posted by: Kir on 12/3/2014 at 6:02 am
December 1, 2014
“Clear, calm, and reeeeaallly cold!” That was the summary of today’s climb. We woke up to a perfectly calm morning, almost even warm (at least for Antarctica). It was shaping up to be a perfect summit day, so we packed our bags and left for the top. We climbed a low-angled glacier, weaving our way through the surface of wind blown ice and sculpted snow, eventually reaching a large amphitheater with Vinson’s summit standing at the head. We crossed the basin, navigating a few small crevasses until we reached the slope that leads up to Vinson’s summit ridge. Despite the forecast for “extremely cold” we were warm on the climb, climbing comfortably without needing to wear our thickest down layers. The views around us were truly breathtaking (well, nearing 16,000’ was also a factor). The higher we climbed the more of the Ellsworth Range came into view - a jagged line of ice capped peaks piercing through Ice Cap spread out below our feet. The size and scale and rawness of the landscape is hard to comprehend, even when standing in the middle of it.
By mid-afternoon we reached the final summit ridge, a thin ridge of snow and rocks with a few small rock outcroppings that require delicate balance to navigate around. Just as we reached the ridge, a steady and frigid wind blowing straight from the direction of the South Pole picked up. Despite bundling up our body temperatures instantly began to slip. We navigated the ridge without much trouble, despite having to stop every few minutes to keep the circulation going in our hands. Onward we climbed, trying desperately to hide from the breeze in layers of hoods, until suddenly there was no more ridge to climb. We had reached the top of the bottom of the world - the summit of the Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s highest point. It was amazing, beautiful, and really cold. Despite the effort in getting there, we weren’t inclined to stay long, we snapped a few pictures, shared a few high fives, and then set our sights on getting back down the ridge and out of the wind. The sub sub sub zero temps made every move that much more challenging but Penn and Jon climbed beautifully, moving through the exposed terrain without difficulty and soon we were dropping back off the ridge into the amphitheater and out of the cold southern wind. We stopped in the sun, our faces covered in rime ice, and started laughing - we were through the thick of it and it was nice to be heading downhill. We retraced our steps back across the glacier and reached High Camp in the early evening. Tired but happy, we and another team of two climbing rangers a few hours ahead of us, were the first climbers to reach the summit of Vinson this season and despite the chilly summit ridge, it was a very spectacular climb.
Tomorrow we set our sites for Base Camp and hope to move back downhill in search of some slightly warmer temperatures, thicker air, and hopefully some good ski touring around Base Camp.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team
RMI Guide Linden Mallory calls from the Vinson Massif summit!
On The Map
WOW - CONGRATULATIONS JON, PENN and LINDEN!!!!
Great updates and great coverage - feel like I am there without ever leaving the confines of 70 degrees in Birmingham :))
Send more photos and video - the video from the summit was Incredible !!
Safe Travels and Congratulations!
Posted by: Lee Styslinger III on 12/4/2014 at 9:35 am
Way to go, Team! Congratulations!!!
( and Linden: SO nice to see you on top of yet another “massif”!!!)
Safe journey home, everyone!
- Dana Marie Buchanan
Posted by: Dana Marie Buchanan on 12/3/2014 at 8:50 am
November 30, 2014
Another brisk night broke clear and calm at Low Camp and when we poked our heads out of the tent this morning, we caught site of a new scene for us down here: not a cloud in the sky and not a puff of wind blowing over the mountain tops above. It was a good sign that it was time to move to High Camp. We packed up our gear, rationing down the extra wait and second sets of miscellaneous gear to keep our pack weights manageable and set off for High Camp. Crossing the upper portions of the Branscomb Glacier to the fixed lines was warm - hot even - as the sun baked down on us and the white faces all around us reflected the rays. We were down to climbing in just a few light fleece layers and our mood matched the high temps.
Mid afternoon found us beginning to climb the large 3,000’ face off of the glacier to the upper plateau of the Vinson Massif. We put our heads down and made solid, steady progress up the lines that run up the face. We paused at series of ledges partway up for a quick bite to eat and a drink and then continued upwards, reaching the top by early evening. Another hour of climbing a gentle glacial slope brought us into high camp and we quickly set about hacking a flat tent platform into the ice and frozen snow. Once the ground was level and the tent was up we built a long snow wall out of blocks of snow to buffer us in the event of winds later tonight.
After we were finally settled, we took a moment to venture over to the edge of camp where a sheer face drops away to the Branscomb far below. The view was nothing short of spectacular. The Antarctic Ice Sheet stretched out as far as we could see, shimmering on the horizon in the evening light. Below us, the Branscomb Glacier flowed around the foot of the face and down past Base Camp where it melted into the sea of ice. Above us, the summits of Shinn and Epperly stood watch over the landscape with Vinson’s true summit hiding just behind the ridge line above High Camp.
It was a solid day of effort to climb up here and set up a warm and comfortable camp but we’re all feeling well and happy to be up here. If the weather holds we hope to make a summit bid tomorrow or the following day - depending on conditions.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team d’accord
On The Map
Incredible stuff!! As Mal Moore used to say, “Leave somet’n ya’ momma gave ya’ out there…!” Good luck on the summit!
Posted by: Tom on 12/1/2014 at 5:50 pm
It is now your new day, your Dec. 2nd, though we here in the USA are still in Dec. 1st. Hope all went super yesterday and thinking of you all. Big hug, Carol
Posted by: Carol Colleran on 12/1/2014 at 3:27 pm
November 29, 2014
It was a cold night here at Low Camp last night. Frost formed on the edges of our sleeping bags from our breaths and we woke up to rings of frost crystals around us. Once the sun poked over the ridge line things began to warm up and before long we were moving about camp without too much chill. The plan was to carry a small load of food and fuel to high camp to prepare for our summit bids. Since our loads were manageable and we are nursing what rest we can at lower altitudes, we worked in tandem with a group from ANI and Penn and I made the carry to high camp while Jon traversed the glacier to a col on the far side of the valley.
We set off in the early afternoon with (relatively) warm temps and no wind. We skinned up the base of the fixed lines that ascend a broad face to a ridge line that leads to the upper portions of the Vinson Massif. Transitioning at the base of the fixed lines, we put our skis on our backs and strapped crampons on and began climbing. We spent the next several hours climbing the ~3,000’ face, watching the glacier shrink away below us and the mountain tops above loom larger as they drew nearer. As we neared the top of the fixed lines a low but sharp wind kicked up and the temperatures instantly plummeted. We bundled up and climbed the final hour or so into high camp doing our best to conceal any bit of skin from the biting winds. The winds died as we reached high camp and we were able to warm up a bit as we stowed our gear in preparation for our move up there. It was a spectacular evening, the glaciers below us flowed out into the low hanging clouds below while to both sides of us the rugged ridge lines of the Massif reared up from below. Above us a half full moon hung above the summit of Mt. Shinn, Vinson’s neighbor, and looked so close that is seemed like only a quick detour would get us to it and back again.
With our packs emptied we strapped on our skis and started back down. The skiing was slow and conservative right out of high camp as we picked our way through the wind affected snow, finding a line through the tall curls of snow carved out by the Antarctic gusts. The snow was firm and smooth along the top ridge line of the fixed lines and we chose to belay ourselves down that to keep ourselves safe. Once onto the face the sun had softened the surface and we were able to link up great turns for several thousand feet all the way down to the Branscomb Glacier below.
We returned to camp by late evening and quickly set about cooking dinner and sharing our observations and insights about the route above with Jon. With our gear in place, we’re hoping for a decent forecast tomorrow morning to make our move to high camp and shoot for the summit in the following days. We’re back in the tent at Low Camp enjoying the warm midnight sun (as ironic as that sounds) and burrowing into our sleeping bags in preparation for another chilly night down here.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & team
PS: Roll tide!
On The Map
Great work, guys. So amazing to get a phone call from Camp 1 last night! Tell us more about the temps (highs and lows) and keep it up. Love to all from Aspen
Posted by: Kir on 11/30/2014 at 5:49 am
November 28, 2014
We unanimously agreed that the temperatures were a bit warmer than the night prior and we all slept much more warmly, although we did find out in the morning that the temps were hovering around -18F when we crawled out of the tents around 9am this morning. Despite the cold bite to the air, the skies had cleared overnight and we set about breaking down camp and preparing to move to Camp 1 (known as “Low Camp” on Vinson). We hit the trail midday and climbed back up the Branscomb Glacier, navigating the first crevasse field again with ease, crossing the long basin above, and reaching our cached gear by late afternoon. The landscape, under clear skies this time, were completely different and we were able to soak in the surroundings: the bulging seracs and icecliffs of the Branscomb to our left and the towering rock and ice faces of Vinson’s main Massif directly in front of us.
After reaching our cached gear we transferred the loads from yesterday into the sleds we were dragging behind us and set off toward Low Camp. We made a long arcing turn from east to north facing around a second crevasse field and then set off across the upper stretches of the Branscomb, walking along the base of Vinson’s towering walls stretching 3,000-4,000’ above us. The glacier was an undulating plateau that felt like a false flat - the perspective lent itself to thinking we were traveling along flat ground but in reality we climbed another 800’ over several miles. The constant backward tug of our sleds was a good reminder of why we were working so hard hauling our heavy loads.
By early evening, with the sun still high in the sky, we reached Low Camp and set about establishing camp. Whatever chills we felt from the occasional breeze was quickly chased away by the hard work of shoveling out a tent platform and a place to cook in the thick wind packed snow. We needed saws to hack through the dense snow and had to wield our avalanche shovels with care for fear of bending or snapping the blades. Despite the firm snow, within a few hours we were settled comfortably into camp and enjoying a warm meal. It’s now half past midnight and the sun is still high above the horizon, traveling from west to east now. We are crawling into the tent eager for a good night’s rest after the long climb with all of our gear but very happy to be up here and staring up at the more exciting climbing above us.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory and team
On The Map
Se tenir au chaud… d’accord?
Posted by: M. Homme on 11/29/2014 at 6:04 pm
Cool Stuff! (literally and figuratively)Jon, 65 F in Tuscaloosa today…
Posted by: Tom on 11/29/2014 at 9:57 am
November 27, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving from 78 degrees south of the equator on the Vinson Massif!
The sun finally slipped behind the mountains around 3am last night and the temperatures here at Vinson Base Camp instantly dropped even further, causing us all to stir from our slumbers to burrow deeper into our sleeping bags. Despite the cold we all slept soundly. After reluctantly crawling out of our bags we set about preparing for the day: melting snow, boiling water and sorting gear to carry further up the mountain. We took our time this morning, waiting for the low hanging clouds that hung over the glacier to break but they never did and by midday we set out up the Branscomb Glacier with our packs full with food and fuel for nearly a week above Base Camp.
The climb out of camp ascends the gently rolling glacier before entering a minor crevasse field that guards the entrance to a large flat bench at about 8,400’ on the glacier. Snow at very cold temperatures is known to be “crunchy” or “squeaky” as the crystal is break and fracture instead of bending or bonding and we settled into a routine on the climb out of camp, listening to our skis glide across the cold snow and settle under the weight of our feet with an audible crunch. As we approached the crevasse field our hopes to break through the clouds to clear skies above dissipated and we navigated our way through the cracks under a world lacking any sort of contrast. Glimpsing only occasional wands or tracks left from a previous group. We climbed another hour like this until we lost all visibility completely. We were in a world of white with no ability to differentiate the sky from the ground or near from far. Climbers refer to this as being “in the ping pong ball” - like being inside an sphere of impermeable whiteness. Having crossed the plateau and nearing the second notable crevasse field for the day we opted to drop our loads there, near a no longer used camp spot called 1/2 Camp, instead of pushing forward navigating only by feel. We unloaded all of our gear into a large duffel bag, lashed it securely to the ice, marked its location, pulled the skins from our skis and turned our sights toward Base Camp.
We were able to retrace our skin track without too much difficulty, following the telltale marks of pole tip plants and skin tracks (and keeping an eye on the map and gps just to be sure) back down the glacier. A couple of hundred feet above Base Camp the clouds thinned and we could spot our tent alongside the airstrip. We skied back into Base Camp grinning. Despite the poor visibility today, it still felt good to be on skis in Antarctica.
We celebrated a southern Thanksgiving swapping stories of traditions back home and sharing a package of Oreos. We’re wishing all of our families a Happy Thanksgiving and just so there’s no confusion: Tasty Bites are no comparison for home cooked Turkey!
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team
1/2 camp! Nice work, boys!
Posted by: Kir on 11/28/2014 at 2:51 pm
November 25, 2014
The expedition officially kicked off Sunday afternoon with the arrival of Jon and Penn in Punta Arenas. After dozens of hours of flights, connections, luggage carts, and check-in counters, it was a huge relief to see all of our gear safely back in our hands here in Chile. We’ve spent the past two days completing the final preparation for the trip: packing and repacking our gear, chasing down the final but crucial odds and ends (fresh cheese & coffee!) that we need to feel fully outfitted, all the while keeping a careful eye toward the weather forecast for the coming days. With our bags fully packed, we checked in with our logistics partner ALE late this morning and weighed the some 300 pounds of food, supplies, climbing and ski gear into a somewhat manageable stack of duffels and ski bags. Once tagged and sorted, we sent them off to the airport to be loaded onto the plane to be ready at a moment’s notice for the flight into Antarctica. It feels great to have the wheels in motion after so many months of preparation.
The fickle Patagonian weather was still holding clear so with our gear in order and facing the luxury of an unstructured afternoon, we caught a ride to the base of Cerro Mirador, the local ski area that sits above town, to shake out the travel from our legs. The spindly but dense trees along the hillside provided just enough protection from the whipping wind to keep us warm as we climbed. Near the summit the vegetation thinned and the full gale of the normal afternoon Patagonian winds swept around us, shaking the towers and brightly painted chairs of the chairlift where we ended. The gusts were strong enough to push us from out stances every now and again but the views down over Punta Arenas and across the Straits of Magellan toward Tierra del Fuego - and eventually Antarctica - kept us focused. After a few minutes of gazing out across the whitecaps far below, we retreated down through the woods and made our way back to town by mid-afternoon.
In the evening we joined up with Dave’s team and headed over to ALE’s pre-flight briefing. After running through the ins/outs of flight logistics, what to expect when disembarking on an ice runway, and how to handle passport control when heading to Antarctica, our ALE coordinator gave us the news we’ve been waiting for the past few days: the forecast summary and planned flight schedule. Typically the conditions and forecast are reviewed every morning and periodically throughout the day before making the decision whether to fly or not. In the next 24 hours, however, the ALE team is feeling so optimistic about the weather that they went ahead and gave us the thumbs up to fly tomorrow morning. We are crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica so we’re prepared for the best laid plans to go awry, but we’re all thrilled to hopefully being on the ice by midday tomorrow. We’re back at the hotel now wrapping some final loose ends and heading to bed shortly before our early departure for the airport and into the interior of Antarctica tomorrow.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team
Congrats ; all hear enjoyed turkey & football while you were on the top. Hooray!
Posted by: B Lee mallory on 12/4/2014 at 3:01 pm
Go team. Penn and Jon, you guys are nuts. Wishing you a successful and safe climb. Best, Jim J.
Posted by: Jim Johnson on 11/27/2014 at 10:55 am
July 1, 2014
Four Day Summit Climb
The Four Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Casey Grom and the Five Day Summit Climb led by RMI Guide Linden Mallory reached the summit of Mt. Rainier earlier this morning. The teams got an early start this morning in order to take advantage of the cooler overnight temperatures and beat the heat today. While on the summit, the teams found it to be incredibly warm with calm winds. They are also enjoying a clear sky with views in all directions.
The teams will descend to Camp Muir where they will refuel before continuing their descent to Paradise. We look forward to seeing them in Ashford later today.
Way to go!!! The Seahorses are proud of you all as well! Great job! Can’t wait to hear all about it! Safe travels down the mountain and home! :) Coach Jan
Posted by: Jan Allen on 7/2/2014 at 4:21 am
Another one down! Love you, Michelle
Posted by: Michelle Johansen on 7/1/2014 at 2:11 pm
May 7, 2014
Alaska Mountaineering Seminar - Expedition
More clouds filled the Ruth Amphitheater this morning when we woke up to check the weather and give a report to the pilot. The mist and low hanging clouds meant no flying this morning but it did give us the opportunity to have a relaxing morning cooking up breakfast in camp and then heading out for some ski touring nearby. This little weather system passing through the Alaska Range brought us a few inches of fresh snow and we found great turns on the slopes nearby. We spent a few hours making laps, forgetting about the weather and immersing ourselves in the simple joy of sliding downhill on skis.
By early afternoon the clouds looked as if they were beginning to thin and we headed back to camp to pack out the runway for the plane and get our gear in order should the weather break enough for a flight to get in. By the time we finished the clouds were still lifting - albeit slowly - and we entered the waiting game, exerting whatever futile will power we could muster to clear the skies while passing the time telling stories, sharing jokes, and even building a little jump in camp to catch some air on skis.
By 5:30 in the evening the views across the Amphitheater were clear and we got the go ahead that a plane was on its way. Shortly thereafter a red Otter poked over the ridge lines above us, made a few sweeping turns above the glacier and came into land. We hauled all of our gear over to the waiting plane, piled everything in and were soon airborne, flying low over the glacier we walked yesterday morning. We buzzed right down the Ruth Gorge, staying low as the summits of the surrounding peaks were still covered in clouds and followed the winding track of the Ruth Glacier out of the mountains and back into the Alaska foothills. The riot of green spring buds covering the forest tops, intersected by rivers still carrying winter ice, was a little bit of a shock after being in a world of ice, snow, and rock for the better part of the past week and the air gradually felt warmer as we neared Talkeetna.
We landed in Talkeetna and swapped our ski boots for flip flops, our soft shells for jeans (after a nice long shower), and are headed out for dinner. Despite the unpredictable weather, it’s been a fun week of adventuring in the Alaska Range.
- RMI Guide Linden Mallory & Team