Our Vinson team flew off the Union Glacier late on the 29th and checked into the very nice Dreams Hotel in Punta Arenas. Yesterday morning, some of the climbers caught early flights home, however; most of the team remained and joined some other Vinson climbers for a celebratory dinner last night.
Jacob Schmitz remained in Antarctica to lead another team up the mountain, but Joe Butler called and gave us a re-cap of the expedition. All in all, it seems like the team had an amazing time down on “The Ice.” They took their time making their way up the mountain, and avoided feeling rushed by the decision-making of other teams. It’s always kind of interesting how, despite common goals, there often seems to be a sort of competition between climbing teams, which can really affect their decisions.
Our team refused to get caught up in such sentiments and just climbed on their own schedule. When the weather looked inclement early on, the climbers relaxed in our spacious and very secure Mountain Hardwear Stronghold dome tent, hanging out in padded camp chairs, while the other teams pushed up in a wet-snow whiteout. When the weather began to clear, the team moved on up glacier and into another comfortable camp below the steep ridge leading up to the upper camp. There they erected a custom-built, pyramid shaped tent made for us by Sierra Designs as their dining tent and prepared themselves for the big move up high.
After climbing the 3,000′ of fixed line up the steep ridge to the upper camp, they rested for a day while the winds blew and then made a foray uphill when the winds seemed to abate. The lessening of the wind was only temporary, and rather than push on, as did some other teams, our climbers returned to camp to re-group and prepare for a favorable forecast that was predicted to be right around the corner.
The result was that our climbers were able to spend two hours on the summit, enjoying crystal clear views and balmy, almost warm, temperatures, whereas the other teams essentially tagged the top and raced back down, because the wind and weather made the summit inhospitable. Rumor has it that we will receive some bare-chested summit photos- something altogether unheard of at the top of Antarctica!
Congratulations to all the climbers. We had another 100% successful season on Mount Vinson and really appreciate all your hard work in preparing for your climb and for being patient while on the mountain. Good work everyone!!!
Stay tuned for photos…