Posts for Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Bound for Punta Arenas

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 18, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif

Dave Hahn here. I’m at Union Glacier. Today we started out at high camp on Vinson (12,300’). We climbed six hours down to base camp, and 30 minutes later we were on an airplane bound for Union Glacier and arrived just in time for dinner. And now we are just a couple hours away from a flight to South America on the Iluyshin. So everything’s happening pretty quickly for us. And if it keeps happening this way, we will be in Punta Arenas in southern Chile by tomorrow morning, mid morning or so. But we will catch you up a later and so far so good.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Road signs at Union Glacier. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection


Dave Hahn calls in from Union Glacier.

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Vinson Massif: Dave Hahn Recounts Summit Day

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 17, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

It was still cloudy at high camp this morning, despite predictions for clearing.  But looking up at the summit of Mt Shinn or the higher ridges of Vinson (the summit is not visible from high camp) it was obvious that no wind was in the mix.  We decided to go for the top.  We were out of camp by 9:15 AM.  The cloud cover actually kept us from overheating in the first few hours.  The team made steady progress- everybody was strong and using their best energy saving techniques.  We all found the summit ridge to be a magical place.  We had no big views, since by that point we were in the cloud tops, but that meant we concentrated our attention on the close in views of rock and snow formations.  We hit the top at 4:30 PM and were quite surprised at how comfortable it was to sit up there, with zero wind and strong sun shining on the clouds around us. 
We enjoyed a half hour on top and then began our careful descent, reaching high camp at 7:25 PM.  This allowed us to eat dinner and get to bed at a respectable hour (which has been rare).  Good sleep is what we need now to make tomorrow’s descent to Basecamp manageable and safe.
 
Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Dave Hahn & Team Summit!

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 17, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 16,067'

Update at 2:45 pm PST:
Dave called with a quick update: The team is back safe at High Camp and doing very well.

11:36 am PST:
Hey, this is Dave Hahn, lucky enough to be on top of the Vinson Massif, highest point in Antarctica- 16,067 ft with the entire team!  We’ve got Larry Seaton. We’ve got Fatima Williamson. We’ve got Bill and Sara McGahan. So all of us are up here. We we can’t believe our luck. We’ve got perfect conditions. No wind.  I’m going to give you a yell either by voice dispatch or a written dispatch when we get back to camp to let you know we are safe. But right now everything is going extremely well. Everybody’s feeling good. Everybody’s very happy. All for now. Thank you.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn

Dave Hahn on the Vinson Massif summit. Photo: TA Loeffler An RMI Climber making the final steps to the summit of the Vinson Massif. Photo: Dave Hahn


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

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Move to High Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 16, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

At low camp, we woke to another thoroughly cloudy day.  But it wasn’t as cold as yesterday and there wasn’t any wind up above that we could detect.  We ate our usual late breakfast and checked in with Vinson Basecamp via the radio to hear the latest forecast (the same folks at Union Glacier who try to find weather windows for the Ilyushin also take a stab at mountain weather predictions).  The forecast was just plain good.  Clouds diminishing, no significant winds.  We packed up low camp and headed for high camp.  It was 2 PM by the time we were roped up and walking toward the fixed lines.  We climbed in a murky world of cloud, between murky layers of other clouds down low and up high.  But we made good and steady progress, reaching high camp at 12,300 ft by 8:30 PM.  We worked to get a camp built and a kitchen going.  At 10 PM we got our first sunshine of the day, which, thankfully kept on beaming down through clearing skies to make dinner and going to bed a lot easier.  Tomorrow could be our big day… Depending, of course on how the weather shapes up and how the climbing team looks at breakfast.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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

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Vinson Massif: Stormin’ Up High and at Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 15, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

It was a storm day on Mount Vinson, so we stayed put at low camp.  You might wonder how such a day differs from the rest day we took yesterday… it isn’t very different.  We ate, we slept, we read, we listened to music, we watched TV.  The weather seemed to be improving early in the day, in that wind speeds appeared to be dropping on the peaks and ridges above us.  Our latest forecasts also suggested that we’d be rewarded for waiting as the outlook is for an easing in both wind and cloud for the next few days.  But none of that seemed to do us much good at low camp today.  The sun continually found thick clouds and murk to hide behind and so it was a cold afternoon and evening.  The team didn’t hang out for long in our dining tent after dinner… back to the sleeping bags with fingers crossed for a more useful day tomorrow. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Rest Day at Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 14, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,100'

As planned, we took a break from mountain climbing today.  We rested primarily to catch up on hydration and acclimatization before our assault on high camp and the summit.  But since today’s weather was a little on the sloppy side, with clouds at all levels, some falling snow and hints of wind aloft, it wasn’t a bad day to be taking it easy at low camp.  We ate, drank, rested, read, watched TV and listened to music.  The teams that went to Vinson’s summit yesterday came through on their descent to base today.  All seemed well and happy, and of course relieved that they’d gotten to the top before this particular pulse of inclement weather came through.  We will just hope it is gentle and short lived.  We’d like to move up tomorrow.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif Expedition: Team Carries Up the Fixed Lines

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 13, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 11,800'

We all agreed that carrying a load of food, fuel and gear 2500 vertical feet up the fixed lines was hard.  It was steep (both going up and coming down) it took a long time (7 hours round trip from low camp) and it was sometimes too hot and sometimes too cold.  It felt a lot like mountain climbing.  Today we had crampons on our feet and axes in our hands, unlike the last couple of sled dragging days on the low angled approach glacier.  So all around, it was pretty tough, but we did it.  We got those unreal Antarctic views as we got higher, spawning questions like “Is that ice way out there or is it cloud?” (It was both).  Our hope, of course, is that by doing such tough work today, by going so high (11,800) and by coming back down to sleep and rest through tomorrow, we’ll be stronger, more familiar with the route and better acclimated to the altitude.  That may be, but at any rate, it sure was fun climbing today.  It was a little cloudy which seemed to hold some heat in the air, making things a bit easier.  The two teams above us apparently made the summit today, which is great, we’ll see them tomorrow on their descent.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

RMI Climbers on the fixed lines below Vinson High Camp. Photo: Peter Whittaker Collection

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Vinson Massif Expedition:  Team Moves to Low Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 12, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 9,300'

We busted out of Base Camp today.  Just over five hours of walking up the Branscomb Glacier put us at “low” camp, which isn’t all that low at 9300 ft above sea level. Half way along the route we picked up our cached supplies and equipment from yesterday’s carry.  We were alone for our day of climbing, since the other teams in our rotation have about four days head-start on us.  One of those, a German team, made the top today in a speedy ascent.  They were early enough in the day that they came all the way back down to low camp.  So we have neighbors.  The other two teams are still at high camp hoping to get a shot at the summit tomorrow.  We had great conditions for coming along directly under Vinson’s giant western face, and we had perfect and unobstructed views of Mounts Gardner, Epperly and Shinn.  Camp was built quickly and easily and after a filling dinner, the team retired to bask in the strong, late night sun.  We’ll get that sun until at least three AM, but then, while it is behind the mountain, our teeth will be chattering until 11 AM. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

A climbers on the Branscomb Glacier.  Photo: RMI Collection Low Camp on Mt. Vinson.  Photo:  RMI Collection

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Vinson Massif: Hahn & Team Carry Halfway

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 11, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,200'

We are back to great weather on Vinson.  There was still a little wind apparent up high during the morning, and a few fog banks forming and dissipating down below, but by mid-day one could only describe it as “splitter”.  Perfect blue sky, big bright sun and no wind… splitter.  Team 2 had a fine breakfast at Vinson Base and then we settled into a light training and review session.  Bill, Sara, Fatima and Larry each have fine climbing resumes, so it was only necessary to run through some quick examples of crevasse rescue and anchoring systems to refresh memories.  In the afternoon we went for our shakedown cruise: a carry of food and gear to half camp.  It was great to stretch legs and get some views of the surrounding humongous peaks.  We were back to Base by around 7 PM, in time for dinner in the strong evening sun.  We turned in for bed confident that the sunshine would keep tents warm well into the night.  Sometime after one or two AM the sun will go behind the mountain and life will get cool, but by then we’ll be sleeping… Dreaming of the move to low camp tomorrow.

Word is that the Ilyushin is flying to Union tonight, so Team 1 (Kara, Juan, Piotr, and Spencer) should have breakfast in South America.  Bon Voyage.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Vinson Massif Expedition:  Switcheroo at Vinson Base Camp

Posted by: Dave Hahn | December 10, 2013
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Vinson Massif
Elevation: 7,000'

The RMI Vinson teams traded places this evening.  It was a day of wait-and-see as far as flying was concerned.  High winds at Union Glacier, high winds in the intended flight path through the Ellsworth Mountains, and big winds that we could see on the upper slopes of Vinson.  But things began to calm as the day went on and there was continued hope that the flight would happen before the day was out.  I’d just sat down to dinner with group one at Vinson Base when news came that group two was in the air headed our way.  Kara, Juan, Piotr, and Spencer packed fast and watched the ski equipped twin otter make a perfect uphill landing on the Branscomb.  It was great to see Bill, Sarah, Fatima, and Larry emerge from the plane.  The two teams mingled and compared notes as the plane was unloaded and reloaded.  We were all happy to hear that team 2 was treated to such a fine time during their several days stay at Union.  And I believe team 2 was relieved to see that team 1 had managed to come through a Vinson climb appearing happy and no worse for the wear. 
Then it was load up time and I said goodbye to team 1.  We shared some wonderful times together. Rumor has it that there are Ilyushin flights scheduled as early as tomorrow, so perhaps they’ll be luckier on their Antarctic exit than they were on their entrance.  Team 2 bedded down for the night at VBC… Ready to climb.
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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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