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Entries from Vinson Massif


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait out the Weather at Union Glacier

Rough day at Union Glacier.  Early on, there was the hope that the Ilyushin would fly… there were even expected times and schedules developed.  But before we got very far into the morning, the flight was canceled due to big winds in Punta Arenas.  This wouldn’t have been our flight, of course, as it is devoted to getting the marathon folks out.  But obviously we need this one done to get to our own.  The weather at Union spiraled into a nasty storm during the late afternoon and evening.  55 mph winds punished our tents in the middle of the night in this normally calm camp, causing most guides and staff to be up and on alert through the wee hours.  Winds mellowed by morning, but now a snowstorm has set in.  Despite the disappointments of the day, spirits were high as we worked to entertain one another with lecturers and movies and slideshows.  We are hanging in there at Union Glacier. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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My thoughts and prayers are with you on this last stretch of your journey to come home. To Matt and the entire team. Be safe!

Posted by: Karen jones on 12/16/2018 at 2:46 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Enjoy A Beautiful Day in Antarctica

Waking today was groundhogs day.  Low and lightless grey clouds.  Gently falling snow, muted sounds.  But that all changed as the day went on.  To the point that by late afternoon it was blue skies and sunshine all around.  That didn’t make the Ilyushin fly though.  We, of course, want the plane to come in to take away the marathon runners -much as we’ve grown attached to them-  they stand between us and spare seats to Punta Arenas.  There is new snow covering what should be a blue ice runway here at Union and, reportedly there are ridiculous winds limiting a transport plane from taxiing for a takeoff from Punta.  Nonetheless it turned into a brilliant day here at Union.  People congregated outside the tents, staring at the sun and forgotten horizons and mountains.  Much as 60 odd people wanted out… nobody could deny that Antarctica was amazing (and captivating) today.  We all attended and appreciated a lecture by an ALE guide who’d broken records for a solo female journey to the South Pole.  We watched a fine movie about Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.  Generally, we celebrated the fact that 107 years ago today, man first reached the South Pole of planet Earth.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Cheer on a Team Member in the Marathon

Start to finish… another grey day of clouds and snow at Union Glacier… with no horizon, no contrast, not much visibility and zero chance of escape.  Except… today was the Antarctic Ice Marathon and everybody was excited.  Our own Abdul surprised his climbing team at breakfast by inquiring as to whether he might enter the race… scheduled to begin in an hour.  It turned out that he could and did.  26.2 miles was going to be run in whiteout conditions over four laps on a ten kilometer groomed loop.  But with new snow falling, the grooming wasn’t all that good.  It was a lot like running in sand at the beach.  Abdul took off with the crowd at 10:30 AM… his first marathon-and the only one of 59 entrants to have climbed to Vinson’s summit three days earlier.  Skeptics expected one lap from him.  Abdul finished the marathon, completely comfortable and in control.  The winner took 3.5 hours and the final contestant 13 hours with Abdul very respectably in-between. 
The evening was a memorable and international celebration, with cheers going up from the Chinese, the Australians, the Dutch, the Austrians, the Russians, the Indians and the Sri Lankans… not to mention the Americans and Brits. 
The end of the day was exactly like the beginning… snow, cloud, murk, calm and quiet.  But pretty fun too. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Enjoy Deluxe Rest Day

Half the team didn’t even make it to breakfast this morning.  Which was perfectly acceptable (although it was the best breakfast we’d had in weeks).  We got great sleep without so much as a ruffle of the tents due to the wind.  By our standards it was warm, comfortable and easy.  Union Glacier suits us just fine.  As expected, the weather went from yesterday’s blue bird to today’s gray bird.  It was overcast and snowing lightly all day, perfect for napping.  Camp is chock full with 60 marathon runners, primed for their big event tomorrow.  None of my team has yet been tempted to participate, but we’ll see if someone wakes up extra feisty tomorrow.  Today we were content to sit in chairs at tables and to read books about Antarctica while sipping strong coffee. 
The marathon runners were all curious about our strange tans and our experiences of the last two weeks.  We told tales of the big mountains and ate, drank and ate some more.  Change is always difficult… except this particular change to comfort and easy living.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back to Union Glacier

Tough start to the day up at high camp as the winds weren’t inclined to give us a break.  These weren’t the kind of winds that could rip your tent down, just the kind that make it a little miserable to be outside, say taking down a tent or trying to do up ones crampons.  We persevered, with huge help from Patchi and Lakpa Rita, two of ALE’s guides, we carefully got our work done and got walking downhill around 12:30 PM.  No surprise, it was tough work getting down the fixed ropes with full packs, but we just kept at it.  We pulled into low camp and got back into the world of sleds and flat glacier travel.  All were tired from multiple hard days strung together, but we got walking toward Vinson Basecamp (VBC) at 4PM in any case.  By this point our radio communications had let us know that an airplane would be on the ground at VBC awaiting our arrival.  We couldn’t run, but of course we went down at a business like pace, despite sore feet and worn out muscles. We passed a number of climbing teams headed up the mountain -the next wave- and we wished them all well. We arrived at base around 6:30 and set for some serious and rapid gear sorting.  We were busy and motivated, but not so much that we couldn’t connect with ALE’s wonderful staff at VBC to thank them for such comprehensive support and friendship.  It turned out that we were sharing the flight with a couple of ALE’s owners and so our Twin Otter pilot, Monica, took the scenic route through the mountains, much to our delight. 
We got back to Union Glacier on a calm and sunny -warm, by our standards- evening and life got a lot easier.  The camp is chock full of marathon runners who’d flown in this afternoon. We missed that flight as an exit and so it seems we’ll get to be here for a bit longer and who knows… perhaps we’ll run in a little endurance race to stay limber. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Back at High Camp After Summit

The team didn’t seem particularly tired today, considering that they’d been within 1,200 feet of the summit yesterday.  We had sunny skies and not much wind upon waking at high camp and so we were able to get going at 8:30 AM.  We traveled with our big parkas in the packs for much of the day, just putting them on and off at rest breaks.  That changed as we got near the final summit ridge.  Things got a bit more serious with a ten mph wind that let us know just how cold the air was.  We put on parkas, expedition mitts, goggles and face covers in a hurry.  Just then it seemed we’d be in a battle to get to the top, but as soon as we did a few of the steeper snow ramps to get on the ridge proper, we got above the wind.  It was a calm and even comfortable walk along the top of Antarctica.  We got to the true summit at 3:30 PM and stayed for 45 minutes because it was so nice.  We could see for hundreds of miles.  We shook hands and congratulated one another… and in particular we slapped Dale on the back for completing his seventh continental summit.  We took pics and made calls and then started walking carefully downward, mostly in dead calm and easy conditions.  We were back in camp at 7 PM.  Ironically, there was wind in camp so we served dinner in the sleeping tents.  We’ll get down to basecamp tomorrow assuming that the weather holds. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Leave a Comment For the Team (1)

Congratulations to all on summiting after a long wait. Congratulations to Dale on his 7th summit—now that is a rare class to be in.

Posted by: Ed Heath on 12/11/2018 at 11:57 am


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Summit!

Hey, this is Dave Hahn calling from the summit of Mount Vinson, highest point in Antarctica. Us four remaining climbers are up here. Our fifth climber is safe at high camp. All is well. We have really lucked out. We’re up here in windless conditions on top. Very comfortable even though it’s probably on the order of -35 degrees. So we’re doing very well. We’ve made good time coming up here. It’s 3:30 local time. We started at 8:30 local time. So we’re doing quite well and we’ll give you a dispatch from high camp when we get back there safely. All the best from Antarctica!

RMI Guide Dave Hahn


RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls in from the Mount Vinson summit!

On The Map

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Congratulations Matt ! I knew you could do it ! Your a bad motor scooter :)

Posted by: mike and melody shepherd on 12/14/2018 at 7:13 am

Congrats, Matt!  Looking forward to celebrating when you return. Five down, only two more to go!  Scott Schlesner

Posted by: Scott Schlesner on 12/10/2018 at 8:36 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Close, Will Try Again Tomorrow

We got close to the top today and we’re trying again tomorrow.  A persistent 10 mph wind rattled the tents all night long and carried into the morning as well.  That -combined with the cold- made gearing up and getting ready difficult. We hit the trail by 10 AM. At first, it was something of a hassle to keep glasses and goggles from fogging and our faces from freezing, but within about 90 minutes we’d left the wind behind and could just concentrate on good walking.  The weather up on Vinson’s peak seemed perfect and we were growing steadily closer.  At 3 PM we’d reached 14,800 ft (Vinson is just over 16,000 ft) when one of our climbers made the difficult decision to go no higher.  Running the fuel tank dry anywhere is a hassle, but it can be life threatening on a high, cold, remote Antarctic peak.  We needed to turn around and get back to high camp.  We were down by five and the team immediately set to “work” resting and rehydrating.  Four of us will go for it tomorrow while our teammate rests in high camp.  The forecast is still looking good for tomorrow and of course we hope to get the job done. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Move to High Camp

One of the days we were waiting for.  It was obvious from the start (10 AM) that this was our day to move up to High Camp.  Skies were brilliant blue, peaks were clear of cloud caps, and little wind could be detected off the High Camp ridge three thousand feet above us.  By midday we’d spoken to Vinson base and learned we had the forecast in our favor as well -conditions improving on each of the next two days.  That could work out well.  It wasn’t actually so nice down at Vinson Base Camp… they were in fog and murk and couldn’t get airplanes in or out.  We left Low Camp -which had been our home for six nights- at 12:42 PM.  Having the fixed ropes to ourselves was pleasant in a lot of ways, but it was still uphill forever and our packs were heavier than when we’d gone up for our carry.  As we neared High Camp at 6:20 PM, the “wind” was about three miles per hour… but that little bit of movement reminded us quickly just how cold the air was (likely 10 or 15 F below zero).  We built our tents and ate dinner while strategizing over a summit bid tomorrow.  It would be tempting to stay out in the late night sunshine looking over “the edge” for hours (one hundred feet from our tents is the upper rim of the great western escarpment of Vinson)  the peaks are jagged and vivid, the backdrop is an endless sea of clouds and ice… but we’ll stare at it all some other time.  Gotta get our sleep.  Big day coming up. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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WOW. PICS ARE AMAZING.
THANKS.
STAY SAFE, WARM as can B

Posted by: Bill Osten on 12/9/2018 at 12:58 pm


Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Wait for Better Weather

There was improvement all around when we checked weather this morning, but not enough to permit moving up yet.  The clouds were almost gone, which seemed to fit with the forecast that high pressure was building, but there was still wind up high blowing big streamers of snow off the ridge overhead.  In the below zero temps we work in down here, one just can’t get a whole lot safely done while walking into wind.  But today’s winds were nothing like yesterday’s.  We followed our familiar Low Camp rest day routine of alternating naps reading and feeding.  We didn’t cut blocks or add to our snow walls today though… we’re finally feeling temporary, like we’ll leave this camp tomorrow.  We checked in with Base Camp a couple of times today, as usual.  Their weather was actually worse than ours and the climbers were still waiting for clearing to be able to fly back to Union Glacier. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

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