Antarctica Countdown 18 Days and Counting: Working the Lists

Had a great training hike out Flat Rock way today. Hiked a new piece of the East Coast Trail with Marian. The wind was blowing a near gale and I thought it was perfect training weather for Antarctica. I know it can be very windy down there. Started the final stage of preparations today by printing out my gear lists, travel itineraries, and final info packet. Tomorrow, (while it’s supposed to be raining), I’ll start the process of laying out my gear and starting to fiddle, pack, adjust, try on, knot prussiks, plan my lunch food, etc.

I’m climbing with Rainier Mountaineering with Dave Hahn as the lead guide. I shared a base camp with Dave on Everest in 2007 and he passed me in 2010 on my way to Camp Three (pictured above)

This is Dave’s Bio from the Rainier Mountaineering website:

“Dave Hahn has reached the summit of Mount Everest thirteen times (out of 17 tries), more than any American climber. He has guided climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier more than 250 times, and has led 27 attempts on Denali, reaching the summit 20 times. Dave has reached the Vinson Massif in Antarctica summit 27 times. In 2006 Dave led a team of professional athletes on an expedition to ski Mount Everest. In 1999 Dave participated in the expedition that discovered and identified the remains of explorer George Mallory, who died trying to scale Everest in 1924. Dave has been on seven expeditions to the island of South Georgia and has led trekkers overland on the “Shackleton Traverse”, which in 2004 won Outside Magazine’s Trip of the Year Award. He has participated in many visits by ship to the Antarctic Peninsula. Dave shot high-altitude video for the PBS NOVA program Lost on Everest, and guided a film crew into the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica on a journey of discovery that resulted in the Emmy-Award-winning film, Mountains of Ice.”

I look forward to benefitting from Dave’s tremendous expertise and learning all I can from him. I also know he is a great scrabble player so if we get stuck waiting for good weather, I know we’ll be able to occupy many hours!

A few folks have asked me about our itinerary so here it is…

The climb usually takes a minimum of 14 days, but weather related delays often occur and, therefore, the schedule has to remain flexible and is very subject to change

November 29: Depart Newfoundland and Canada.

November 30: Flap Wings Hard all Day. Arrive in Santiago, Chile and connect with flights to Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ)

Dec 1: We will have our first team meeting and orientation once all climbers have arrived. Night spent at Hotel Diego de Almagro in Punta Arenas.

Dec 2: Today we make our final preparations for the flight to Union Glacier with an equipment check, weighing baggage, etc. During the afternoon we will have time to explore the interesting port city of Punta Arenas. Night spent at our Hotel Diego de Almagro in Punta Arenas.

Dec 3: Flight to Union Glacier, Antarctica. This flight is approximately five hours long, crossing Drake Passage and the Antarctic Circle before landing on a blue ice runway. If the weather allows we will continue on via Twin Otter aircraft to Vinson Basecamp located at 7,200′ on the Branscomb Glacier. The flight is approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Dec 4: The climb begins! We carry food and fuel to Camp 1 located at 9,100′, make our cache and descend to Vinson Basecamp for the night.

Dec 5: Rest and acclimatization day.

Dec 6: We break camp, climbing back to Camp 1 with our remaining gear and establish our second camp at 9,100′.

Dec 7: Weather and health permitting we carry to High Camp located in the saddle between Mt. Vinson and Mt. Shinn at 12,400′. We cache gear at High Camp and descend to Camp 1 for the night.

Dec 8: Rest and acclimatization at Camp 1.

Dec 9: Move to High Camp.

Dec 10: Summit Day! On the climb from High Camp to the top of Mt. Vinson we gain 3,600′. From the 16,067′ summit we have unparalleled views of the Ellsworth Range, the Ronne Ice Shelf and seemingly the whole continent of Antarctica. We spend the night again at high camp.

Dec 11: Break camp and descend to Vinson Basecamp. Night spent at Basecamp.

Dec 12 to 18: Days thirteen through nineteen are contingency days should we experience delays due to weather or other unforeseen events. Days of delay are a normal part of Antarctic travel and maybe used on the mountain or for travel.

Dec 19: Return flight to Union Glacier and connect with the transport plane for our return flight to Punta Arenas. Night spent at the hotel at Punta Arenas.

Dec 21: Fly from Punta Arenas to Santiago and connect with flights to the Canada.

Dec 22: Arrive home in Newfoundland (here’s hoping because we know how tight flights are onto the island come Christmas time). Looking forward to a grand welcome home party at the airport!

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