Posts for Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Only in Union

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 09, 2014
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

The weather out at Vinson Base remained unsuitable for flying.  The fog was in.  We ate breakfast and drank coffee at Union Glacier Camp.  Without a ray of hope for the Vinson mission, the Twin Otter aircraft were dispatched on long flights that took them close to the South Pole.  They dropped off several teams interested in skiing “the Last Degree” (of latitude - 60 nautical miles) to the Pole.  Back at Union, our team whiled away a windy morning inside the dining tent. After lunch, things had calmed and so we got out our ropes and rescue gear to run through crevasse rescue systems.  There are dozens of other climbers in our same boat… Waiting for a plane.  They were out in force today, reviewing their own rope techniques in Russian, German, French, Chinese, and exotic English. 
We’ll hope for a change in the fog out at BBC tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Union Glacier map

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Vinson Massif: Teams Fly To & From Union Glacier

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

Team switch day at Union Glacier.  The Ilyushin 76 flew today, landing at about 2:45 PM.  “V1” ended and “V2” began.  There were a couple of hours of overlap in Union Base so that the two teams could mingle and compare notes on Punta Arenas and Vinson Massif.  The V1 gang told stories of the cold summit, the good food and the two pure white snow petrels we saw at Vinson Base yesterday while waiting for the airplane (it is uncommon to see seabirds so far from the sea).  The V2 folk talked about false starts yesterday and touring town with Jeff Martin.  Eventually it was time for JJ to take V1 out to the big jet airplane and head back across the Drake Passage to South America.  It is likely that the team is celebrating in Punta at this very moment (11:43 PM).  Back on the Ice, the V2ers waited patiently for flying weather to materialize at Vinson Base.  Word was that it was socked in with fog.  We talked, played chess, ate meals and drank coffee, but none of that made the clouds go away.  By about 10 PM we built our tents and called it a night… In the bright sunshine.  Tomorrow perhaps.  Getting to the middle of Antarctica was plenty for today. 
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

The Ilyushin 76 having just landed at Union Glacier, Antarctica.  Photo: Peter Whittaker Teams fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier on the Ilushin 76.  Then take smaller ski equipped planes to Vinson Base Camp.

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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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Congrats Greg. Sounds like a tough go. Be safe on the way down. Uncle Dan (PS I drank all the rum)

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Posted by: Uncle Dan on 12/6/2014 at 10:15 am

Wahoo!!  Well done, enjoy the accomplishment.  Be safe on the way back.

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Posted by: Keith on 12/6/2014 at 9:53 am


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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Recent Images From Vinson Massif

  • 2014 RMI Team on the Summit of Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Road signs at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • An RMI Team leaving Vinson High Camp on Summit Day. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • RMI Climbers above Vinson High Camp on Summit Day. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • Dave Hahn on the Vinson Massif summit. Photo: TA Loeffler
  • The views from High Camp on Mt. Vinson, Antarctica.  Photo: Jake Norton/ First Ascent
  • An RMI Vinson Team camped at Low Camp, Antarctica.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • The mountains surrounding Vinson Low Camp. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Flying into Vinson Base Camp, Antarctica.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • A Twin Otter arrives at Vinson Base Camp, Antarctica.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • Union Glacier map
  • The Ilyushin 76 having just landed at Union Glacier, Antarctica.  Photo: Peter Whittaker
  • Teams fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier on the Ilushin 76.  Then take smaller ski equipped planes to Vinson Base Camp.
  • Preparing to fly to Union Glacier. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Passing over Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • The mountains await. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • An RMI Team looking up at the mountain from Low Camp. Photo: Dave Hahn
  • The plane preparing for the flight to Union Glacier. Photo: RMI Collection
  • Vast views across the ocean from Punta Arenas, Chile.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • 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
  • RMI Climbers ascending the fixed lines on Vinson. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection
  • Ascending to High Camp on Mount Vinson.  Photo: RMI Collection
  • A blue sky day at Vinson Base Camp.  Photo: Jake Norton