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 Alpine Ascents: 2007-2008 Mount Vinson Expedition : Vern is back!


January 8, 2008 : Hey there friends, family and loved ones this is Alpine Ascents International, standing on top of Mt. Vinson, the highest point in Antarctica. The international team is standing on the summit right now, its warm, its cold and we are having a great time you can’t believe it. We are looking around, well we are kind of surrounded by a bunch of clouds but the sun is burning through. We have had a wonderful day, seven hours to the top, it has been incredible. Everyone has been breathing and everyone has been working very hard, drinking, staying on top of all their maintenance and now we are celebrating on top of Antarctica. Lots of photos, lots of hugs, lots of handshakes, wish you were here. (cheers of excitement) What a wonderful time to be here. Winslow’s Japanese Team just left the summit and Todd is coming up with the Taiwanese Team and they should be here any moment now, should be great. So we all made the summit and we are heading down, keep your fingers crossed for good weather on the way down. Love you all, ciao for now.

January 7, 2008 : Hey there friends, family and loved ones this is Alpine Ascents Vinson IV climb, calling in for all three groups, Vern Tejas here. We had a wonderful rest day, we spent most of eating, drinking, sleeping and making music; we actually had an all-star band rocking in the posh house just before dinner time, it was wonderful. The weather has turned though, instead of being clear and calm its now windy and whiteout, gusting quite often, enough that we have had to reinforce our tent pole in our posh house. Winslow got a little extracurricular activity as she went to search for another team that was lost in the whiteout. However they have now made their way back and all is well, all members are accounted for. Our team is tucking in early this evening in hopes that the weather is climbable in the morning. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned to the further adventures of Alpine Ascents Vinson climb. Ciao for now.

January 6, 2008 : Hello there friends, family and loved ones, Vern Tejas calling in for all three Alpine Ascents teams on Mt. Vinson right now. Team Got to Go calling in from high camp along with the Taiwanese Team and the Japanese Team. We are all up here at high camp at 4,000 meters above sea level, that’s 13, 143 feet above sea level for all of us Americans. We just wanted to say that it has been a fabulous day, it has been clear and calm and wonderfully warm, we were down to our long johns today coming up the headwall, up the fixed line. We got some great photos and everybody is in high spirits, we are tired though, quite tuckered out from moving our whole camp up here but tomorrow we are planning on taking a rest day. Stay tuned to the further adventures of climbing Mt. Vinson. Ciao for now.

January 5, 2008 : Hello there friends, family and loved ones, Vern Tejas calling in for all three Alpine Ascents teams on Mt. Vinson right now. Team Got to Go, the Taiwanese Team and the Japanese Team are all at second camp at around 10,000 feet above sea level. We all made the carry up to high camp, over a 3000 feet vertical above us today. We had reasonably good weather; it was cloudy in the morning which was perfect because it kept us from getting too hot. Then the sun came out and it is just beaming down on us right now. It is almost 2:00 in the morning and it feels really hot right now, the air temperature is probably about 10 or 20 degrees below zero but with no wind and the sun beaming down on us and the snow reflecting it, it is actually quite warm in the tents. So as soon as that sun swings behind the mountain it will drop down and we will be happy to have these negative forty degree bags. In the meantime we are all doing good, tired from a very big carry up the fixed line. We had a great day and just know that if the weather holds we will be moving up to high camp tomorrow. Ciao for now and sweet dreams from everyone on Mt. Vinson.

January 4, 2008 : Hello there friends, family and loved ones this is Team Got to Go, Vern Tejas calling in for all three teams. We have moved up from camp 1 all the way to camp 2, we are now parked on the corner of the Windy Corner and the Death Valley. We are going to take the short cut up to the fixed line and we are looking to get fuel and food up to the high camp. In the meantime we are firmly entranced in a beautiful campsite here on a warm sunny clear day. We have moved up here to around 3,000 meters above sea level at about 10,000 feet, actually about 10,104 feet to be in the ballpark. We just wanted to tell you that we are thinking about you and everybody is good. That’s Winslow with her group of Japanese climbers and Todd with his group of Taiwanese climbers, everybody is in good spirits. We are looking forward to more good weather and climbing this mountain, so stay tuned to the further adventures of the Alpine Ascents climb of Mt. Vinson. Ciao for now.

January 3, 2008
Hello there friends, family and loved ones this is the Alpine Ascents Mt. Vinson climb calling in, guess what, the weather finally broke, we finally got out of Patriot Hills. Today we flew across Antarctica another 120 miles back to the Elleswood Mountain Range, to Vinson base camp. We did it in three waves and all parties are now on the glacier. We have been able to climb to our first camp at 3,700 feet above sea level and we are very happy to be here. We just had some macaroni and cheese and a little salmon on the side and everybody is now tucked in. The sun has just gone behind the ridge and the temperature is plummeting so we are burying down into our Feathered Friends bags and wishing you warm and happy evening. We are planning on moving up tomorrow if the weather holds so keep your fingers crossed for us and we will see you up at our next camp. Ciao for now from Antarctica.

January 1, 2008 : Hello there friends, family and loved ones this is Team Got To Go calling in from Patriot Hills, Latitude 80 South and Longitude 81 West, way down south, we are about 600 miles from the South Pole. We are in a holding pattern here, we are waiting for weather to clear at Vinson Base Camp so that our pilots can fly in safely, we understand there are some clouds floating around. In the meantime, we are studying our knots, laying anchors, going over pulley theory and having a great old time enjoying the New Year, we hope that you are too. So Happy New Year to everybody and keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Ciao for now.

December 31, 2007 : Hi this is Winslow calling in for the Trunk Monkey, everyone flew out safely yesterday, we were able to fly out from base camp and a few hours later catch the Ilyushin back to Punta Arenas. I am staying down here for another trip. We felt very fortunate to have such a great group of guys, they really did awesome, they are very hard workers and very helpful and we had a really good time on the mountain. Some folks took down the time to write down some things that they wanted to say about the trip.

This is from Michael: Things that I will always remember, hiking in the Torres del Paine Park, seeing the beauty of Antarctica for the first time, sharing an incredible Christmas Dinner on the Mountain with new friends, talking with family via SAT phone during a rest day at high camp and standing on the summit of Mt. Vinson on a wondrous day, seeing all the mountains and ice stretched all the way to the horizon.

This is from Simon: Dear friends and family, we had a wonderful time although on reflection it was an easier climb than many had imagined, we were lucky and happy to take our luck. We were glad to avoid high winds and super low temperatures on summit day. But as it was, the climb was a great challenge, Vinson possibly known as 16,064 feet offered an easy ascent for the weekend climber and a distinct atmosphere of the poles. Looking forward to seeing you all and I am sure that before long you will all be bored of this talk but the pictures and scenery here are out of this world.

This is from Martin: We had a tremendous trip up Vinson; the weather was spectacular on summit day with no wind and only minus 20 degrees celsius, which was unheard of. Our guide Winslow was bliss, very knowledgeable about the mountain and climbing in general and the best cook that I have ever had on the mountain (thanks Marin- Winslow).

I think that Serge’s write up is either MIA or maybe he was out socializing in camp and didn’t get in on that one, he had a great time as well. Todd’s group also summitted and everything went really well, Carole also made it to the summit and did a great job, had a good time and is safe and everyone is back in Punta and on there way home. We appreciate everyone tuning in, hope you have a great New Years Eve, ciao.

December 29, 2007 Hi this is Winslow with the Trunk Monkeys on Mt. Vinson. We had another great day today, we woke up to beautiful calm sunny day and descended all the way down to basecamp, as we descended we entered into some clouds so there was no flying going on today. It is actually really pretty out now and we had great views from basecamp. We had a large meal of hamburgers, salmon, fish, french fries and stir fry veggies, now everyone is in their tents going to sleep and hoping that the plans can fly tomorrow. We will keep you informed on how things are going, as long as the weather is good everyone should be able to fly back to Patriot Hills and hop a ride on the Ilyushin if it makes its way in. It is on standby, waiting for a weather window as well. Everyone is in high spirits and doing great so you we will keep you informed.

December 28, 2007 : Hi this is Winslow with Trunk Monkeys and we are at High Camp here on Mt. Vinson. We had a real amazing summit day today. The best Todd and Vern have ever seen in almost thirty times of summiting Vinson. Everyone did great. We made it up and down safely. We had great views and a very enjoyable day. Everyone is pretty tired now. We are going to rest tonight, get up early and head down to the runway and hopefully be able to fly back to Patriot Hills. We may even all the way back to Punta Arenas if the weather is nice. People should be flying back if everything works out perfectly, that’s what would happen. But we will see what the weather does. Everyone is looking forward to seeing friends and family. Thanks for tuning in! Ciao.

December 27, 2007 : Dec 27 Hello this is Michael calling from the Alpine Ascents International Vinson climb. Our team is named the Trunk Monkeys, yesterday we had a great day coming up the fixed ropes. We had about 1000 meters and moved up from our Camp I to Camp II. Camp II is our high camp and today is our rest day. We just finished building snow walls to fortify our tents – in case the winds pick up later on – it was also a good little work out for us. We are going to have a great dinner here in a couple of hours and prepare fro our summit attempt – hopefully tomorrow morning. So wish us good luck and of course you have all of our best wishes and love to our families and friends and look forward to calling back with news of success. This is Michael from Alpine Ascents Trunk Monkeys out.

December 26, 2007 : Dec 26 Hello this is Michael calling in for the Alpine Ascents Mt. Vinson team – checking in and letting you know we made it to camp I – pulling some sleds up behind us – we had a wonderful x-mas eve mail with Hamburgers, fries, wine and ice cream – we moved x-mas day . and carried to camp II ( about 1000 meters) – returned to one and had steaks, vegetables risotto and the rest of the ice cream – better eating than expecting on a climbing trip – today we will move to high camp – then a rest day and summit bid. We hope to cal in just before the summit bid. This is Michael for Alpine Ascents Vinson – out

December 22-26, 2007 : Dec 21 This is cybercast from Vinson, Serge calling in for Winslow. We had a very relaxed day at Patriot – no flights today – we were kiting and Winslow and Simon had a hike around the hill. We had a lot of chess games . I want to say Happy Birthday to my girlfriend Aneete, and say hello to whole friends and family from Antarctica – hope to talk to you soon. Dec 22 – Hi this is Winslow calling in for the Trunk Monkeys. It is a beautiful day in Patriot. Though we are not flying yet, as the plane is going to the South Pole and we have a 80% chance of flying – we did have the chance to hike around to the op of Patriot Hills. It’s about 4500 feet up there with a 2000 foot elevation gain. And a few kilometers to get to the base of the hill. A beautiful view from the top – absolutely windless and 360 degree views from the top – we can see ice fields, snowy peaks, rocky peaks we got to walk on the rock and touch the continent – that was an exciting hike – having lunch and resting -= taking in the view and now I presume the chess matches will start back up – that’s been popular along with reading and we hope to fly to Vinson base camp tomorrow – wish us luck Dec 23 – Hi this is Winslow calling for the Trunk Monkeys – I’m watching the Otter take Todd and all the climbers to Vinson Base Camp – I’ll be an hour behind the group but the weather is perfect – I can see peaks in 3 different directions from here and cirrus clouds in the distance – but I hope to get to BC soon and move to ½ camp about 4 hours climb – set up camp – it will be late night – we’re excited and check in soon. Dec 25 – This is the Trunk Monkeys calling in for the Mt. Vinson team. Everything is good at Vinson base camp – we had a great hike up to ½ camp – all feeling well and Merry x-mas to all – hopefully we will move slowly up to the next camp. Dec 26 We are at Camp I – doing great and looking to move to next camp.

Hi this is Winslow for the Trunk Monkeys – we are stuck here at Patriot Hills, Antarctica. It’s been snowing most of the day, pretty warm at minus 5 degrees Celsius, it’s usually minus 12 degrees at this time of the year. Quite a bit warmer then normal with much more snow then usual. It hasn’t been too boring as we got out and practiced fixed line ascending and descending – we watched the volleyball game and there was also a marathon – trudging through deep snow – we’re reading, kiting , eating good food and hanging out – we’ll keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow and send love to friends and family – ciao

December 19, 2007 : Hi this is Winslow calling in. I have some good news and some more good news. We have a team name. We are the Trunk Monkeys. We also flew into Patriot hills today. We have just arrived and had dinner and received our briefing. Now we are about to set up tents as we cannot fly this evening because it’s cloudy at Vinson base camp. We’ll be staying here at Patriot Hills this evening, hoping to fly into Vinson base camp tomorrow morning. We didn’t get to fly in earlier this morning, but we did leave around 2 o’clock so we actually got to sleep in. We didn’t have to do the early wake up. Every body’s doing great. It’s actually pretty warm here. It’s only -5 degrees Celsius. We had to lay her down hiking over here from the airplane over here to Patriot Hills, which is about a 15 minute walk. We’re doing great, excited to be down here on the continent of Antarctica. We’ll give you a call tomorrow and let you know if we make it into base camp. Ciao.

December 18, 2007 : Hi this is Winslow calling in the Vinson climbing team. Today is Tuesday and we are heading back to Punta Arenas. The other team that was ahead of us flew out today so we are hoping that the weather will hold and we will be able to fly out tomorrow morning. We had a beautiful foray up to the Torres del Paine National Park, we really lucked out with the weather and had a beautiful hiking day yesterday. We hiked five miles or so up to this beautiful glacial lake just below the Torres Mountains and had great weather and great views all day. A lot of the hike was along side a river, with lots of ups and downs, we also had to hike up a steep bolder field to get up to the lake and some people took a swim when we got up there. We had a nice lunch then we came back down to our little recurso that we are staying in. This morning we visited two different water falls and we also saw a family of fox with three babies and we were able to watch them play for a little while. It has been a great visit up here to the park and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we are going to be able to fly out tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in and we will keep you posted. Ciao.

December 17, 2007 : Hola, this is Winslow calling in for the Mount Vinson crew. We are in the Torres Paine National Park. We’re enjoying taking a few days off from being able to leave with our weather forecast as it is. They gave us a three day leave so we’re here in the park enjoying that. Yesterday we drove up and saw many of the park’s wildlife. We saw condors, guanacos, flamingos, and various other birds along the way. We stopped and had lunch in a town called Puerto Natales, which is on a large very beautiful lake. We had some great seafood there and just enjoyed the trip up. We’re staying in Refugio, which is also very nice. We’re taking a four hour hike today to a lake at the base of the Torres Paine Mountain. Everyone is doing great. We’re still working on a team name. We’ll get back to you with that. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll let you know how our arctic experience is going.

December 15, 2007 : Hello from Punta Arenas from the first Alpine Ascents crew attempting to reach the ice. Everyone made it here safely and with all baggage on board. We have a great group of climbers including; Martin Grieder (Switzerland), SimonIrish (New York), Michael Hsu (California), and Serge Massad (Ontario). The guides are Todd and Winslow Passey (Utah).

We had our logistical meeting this morning with ALE (Antarctica Logistics Expiditions), the company that carries us all down to this mystical continent. It included a very interesting slide show, instructions of do´s and don´ts (such as lying on the runway to take a photo as a plane fly´s in), and tea and biscuits to wash it down.

Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, and we have flight delays. There is a group ahead of us waiting to fly in as well. It has been snowing in Patriot Hills, dumping 20-30cm of fresh snow on the runway, that must be cleared before landing. This process takes 36hr. after the wind stops to remove the snow. Most groups have retreated from high camp, and are hunkering down at base camp.

With a forecaster predicting the weather for ALE this season, they have given us a 72hr. release of check in responsibilities. This means we do not have to stay in Punta Arenas, so we are arranging a trip out to Torres Del Paine National Park. We hope to get in a hike and a few good views of the towering granite peaks and the picturesque glacial lakes.

Everyone says hello to their friends and family! Go Navy! (from Michael)!! We´ll keep you posted, but it does not look like we can fly until Thursday at the earliest.

 

 
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