Monday, January 21, 2013

Vinson Photos; Back to UG

Well done, team! All the Heavy lifting's done, and now it's time to kick back and play the waiting game. The team members who didn't join the Vinson climb know the waiting game all too well. They finally made it out of Union Glacier yesterday. They were very nearly reunited with the other half of the team!

Anyways, after summiting Vinson two days ago and trudging all the way from High Camp to Base Camp yesterday, the team spent the morning nursing hangovers. Sounds like they had a little celebration last night.

And why not?! They stood on the South Pole and on top of Antarctica's tallest peak in the same week! That's something to celebrate!

Check out some of the team's Vinson photos below:

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Brian, Nick, Simon, Ian, Alexey, Taylor and Keith stood on top of Antarctica today! Well done, boys!

They summited Vinson Massif, and did so in unrelenting cold. Gone were the blue skies and still air of two days ago. No one was climbing in shirtsleeves today.

The temperature dipped to -25 Celsius, and the wind sustained 25 mph, gusting higher. These conditions produced a sustained wind chill of around -41 Celsius--serious, serious cold.

You must stay active in that kind of cold. Otherwise you put yourself at risk for cold injury or exposure issues. That's why the team didn't linger on the summit. Everyone worked so hard to make the summit, but once they did, they knew it was about time to get moving again.

The plan for tomorrow is to descend to base camp and catch flight back to Union Glacier, where they just might meet up with the rest of the South Pole team. If all goes according to plan though, Heather, Diego, Michel, Dale, Niall, Sasha and John will be on their way to Punta Arenas tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Both team contingents were in a holding pattern today. The team in Union Glacier passed another day at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountain Range awaiting their departure to Punta Arenas. They are living in a sublime setting, but anxiously await their reintegration to normal life (and indoor plumbing).

The Vinson team awoke feeling a little run down, so they spent the day napping, rehydrating and stoking the caloric furnace. Yesterday's warm weather and still wind made for excellent climbing conditions, but it also made it difficult to stay hydrated. Some team members went down to their shirt sleeves to avoid sweating too much.

Tomorrow the team will put today's respite and refueling to good use. They expect to spend between 9 and 13 hours on the move, covering over 7,000' in elevation change. Weather permitting, they'll tag the summit and return to High Camp for the night.

Check back tomorrow to see if the Punta team gets on their way and if the Vinson team bags the summit! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Days, One Update

The storm that ravaged Union Glacier has long since blown through, and both team contingents (the Vinson climbers and those returning to Punta Arenas) are enjoying wondrously blue skies and curiously still wind.

That's the upside. The downside is that the Punta team was meant to have been on their way immediately following the storm. But, as is often the case with air travel, they have been delayed, probably until Saturday or Sunday. Indeed, delays tend to be the rule, rather than the exception, when it comes to charter air in the world's wild places.

The Vinson team made it to base camp yesterday, and, since the tentbound storm day gave them some time to rest and organize the kit, they were able to start climbing immediately.

Today they it all the way up to High Camp, and will sleep there at 12,400'. The summit stands at 16,050, and they may well reach it tomorrow! It all depends on how they feel in the morning. They will take a very conservative approach if anyone is struggling with the altitude. Even if that means taking a rest day with continued blue skies and still winds.

Check back tomorrow to see if they bag the summit!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tentbound Storm Day and More Pole Pics!

As Keith (and the noisy wind gusts) spells out in the audio update, it was a wild day at Union Glacier, 50 kt. wind gusts, extremely warm temps (-5 C) and no flights.

Building snow walls takes a lot of energy, but can provide a vital wind block.

The intense weather kept the team in tents and the planes on the ground. So, instead of embarking, they read, played cards and slept. All things considered, it's a blessing in disguise for the Vinson team. They've worked VERY hard over the past ten days, and could probably do with a rest day before the next leg of the adventure.

The worst of the storm has blown through, and we expect Punta Arenas and Vinson bound flights to be on schedule tomorrow.

Below are some more South Pole pics that the team sent on today. Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Back to Union Glacier

Back to "civilization". Back to heated structures and modern transport--they're still waiting on indoor plumbing though.

The team touched down in Union Glacier around 8 PM local time, and are currently enjoying the creature comforts of base camp. Keith mentioned something about 18-year-old single malt when he called in the dispatch. 

Tomorrow the team will split and board two different aircraft, one bound for Punta Arenas, Chile, the other bound for Vinson Massif base camp. Six will return home and eight will attempt the tallest peak on the continent. Stay tuned for their adventure!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Pole at Last!

They made it! Today each team member stood on each longitudinal line at once. They stood in every time zone. They "ran out of south".

The Ceremonial South Pole and Amundsen-Scott Station (photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

They arrived at the Pole this evening. After taking a few photos at both the Geographic and the Ceremonial South Pole, they toured the Amundsen-Scott research station, named of course after the first two explorers to reach the Pole.
Amundsen-Scott from the air (photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

Tonight the team is celebrating. They've already enjoyed a dinner that they didn't have to cook themselves, and have moved on to drinks and cigars.

Well done, team! Drama and accident free expeditions are well organized undertakings made up of intrepid, team spirited folks.

Back to Union Glacier tomorrow

With all the touring and celebrating that must be attended to tonight, the team has not had an opportunity to send many photos from today. Tomorrow they will return to Union Glacier Base Camp and send in some good ones. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Pole Pics!