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Entries from Vinson Massif

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
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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
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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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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Spend Another Day of Waiting

This was a day for naps and meals and diversions. The wind was on again and off again throughout the day. The sun never did break through and snow kept falling on Union Glacier. There was never any question of airplanes coming to visit. One of the ALE snowcat drivers plowed up a fifty foot long, eight foot high snow berm as a shield around our sleeping tents, which is certainly a comfort. As usual, the staff kept serving up excellent meals (for about 130 staff and guests) and presenting great lectures to fill the time. For evening entertainment, we watched “the Perfect Storm” in the library tent. Best Regards, RMI Guide Dave Hahn
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We’re anxiously awaiting your safe return to Punta for the flights home. Hang in there. We are, too! K

Posted by: Kathy on 12/20/2018 at 8:53 pm

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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