It has been a world wind the last few days. After spending 8 nights at Low Camp, we successfully summited Mt. Vinson 16, 160’/4892m at 5:40 PM on December 9, check 2010.
Today, we await the Ilyusion to fly from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier to ferry us off the ice – and on our way back home.
And we don’t know when the big Russian Jet will arrive. Yes, we just don’t know when.
And so goes an Antarctic expedition – almost always 100% weather dependent.
I will write a complete trip report on our climb but a few snippets from summit day.
The key to a successful expedition is to maximize success while minimizing risks. Thus we waited out a week of dangerously high summit winds and below zero temps before making our attempt.
We took a careful 8 hours to summit by way of a variation of the normal route. Phil Ershler, IMG co-owner and leader of our climb, did a great job of leading this twist on the normal route. It was Phil’s 15th+ summit of Vinson.
Our climb started with a few hours of straightforward glacier travel, followed by a climb of the somewhat steep headwall to the rocky West Ridge on to the summit. We utilized a technique called a running belay given the steepness of the headwall.
The normal route follows a snow slope up to the east ridge and then to the summit. This our decent route.
The true summit is quite tiny, room for two people with quite a drop-off. But the large summit plateau allowed our entire team of ten to spread out for pictures, videos and push-ups.
The view was spectacular. I will post my pictures and a panoramic video when I get home but let me say it was my summit view ever.
This was an emotional moment for me thinking of our goal, my supporters, and my family. I want to dedicate this 1st of the 7 summits to those with early onset Alzheimer’s.
The return to High Camp was fast completing a long 12 hour climb followed a nice sleep.
With a deteriorating weather forecast, we made a quick trip down from High Camp the next day to Vinson Base Camp – carrying all our tents and climbing gear – to catch the Twin Otter back to Union Glacier. From there the flight back to Punta – eventually.
So, the schedule? We understand that the current poor weather pattern will continue for the next 48 hours meaning the earliest we could leave would be Monday, December 13.
We are passing the time in somewhat heated ‘storm port’ shelter during the day and our tents at night – all relative since the sun never sets.
As I reflect on the past few weeks, I am grateful to work your support. Each step on summit day was accompanied by a mantra of “one penny, two penny, three pennies, more” All for research.
Memories are Everything