Mount Vinson 6 January 2007 Expedition News.
The Team Dave Pritt (Leader)
John Whittle (Cameraman)
“Success!!! Dave, Simon, Tony & Ian all summitted yesterday and returned safely to high camp”
30th January – It’s 7.00am in Chile and the team have just arrived safely in Punta Arenas after an uneventful flight but meaning another night without sleep. The wind dropped last evening and ALE managed to get their plane in and pick up the final expeditioners before the weather closed in again. They’re relaxing back at their hotel before starting their onward journeys.
29th January – The team are still stuck at Patriot Hills Base Camp as the high winds are preventing the plane from landing on the blue ice runway. They’re permanently on standby so could fly at any time but everytime they think the wind speed’s dropping it suddenly starts to blow again! At present we anticipate Simon & Tony returning to the UK around the 4th February while Dave John & Ian are continuing to Aconcagua.
27th January – Everyone’s now safely down at the Patriot Hills Base Camp. They’re all well but were on such a high that they spent all last night reliving their experiences in the mess tent. I think it was too windy to put their tents up as well. It’s now 6.00am and the sun’s blazing down but that vicious wind is still blowing. It’s forecast to drop later today so there’s the possibility that they could be sampling the delights of Punta Arenas by this evening…
26th January – Success!!! Dave, Simon, Tony & Ian all summitted yesterday and returned safely to their high camp. John had turned back fairly early in the day after injuring his ribs but is doing fine. The sat phone signal was very poor but we know they’re all well but tired. They’re continuing to descend down to Base Camp today.
25th January – The summit attempt is on. They woke this morning to perfect conditions and set out at 12:00 GMT today for the final push. They’ve got a long day ahead of them so our next update won’t be for twenty four hours when we’ll hopefully be reporting a successful climb and the whole team safely back to camp 2. Watch this space….
“On behalf of everyone from the Child Brain Injury Trust, we wish Simon and the rest of the team the best of luck in completing their challenge. The funds that you have raised for the charity will enable us to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by acquired brain injury. Have a safe journey home!” – Rachel Ritter, Child Brain Injury Trust.
24th January – The day started promisingly with a clearing in the weather but it soon closed out and they’ve been confined to the tents all day. Conditions aren’t horrendous but the temperature’s at twenty below with a stiff wind blowing and there’s almost a white out – Not the conditions to be trying for the summit. Everyone’s well and the plan is to try again tomorrow if things look better.
23rd January – Everything’s now in place for the summit attempt. The whole team are at the high camp waiting for a break in the weather. There’s a couple of other teams at camp with them which should make the trail breaking a little easier in the newly fallen snow. The plan is still to attempt the summit on Wednesday 24th . We wish them every success.
22nd January – Well things are starting to move quickly now. They’re now at camp 1 on the slopes on Mt Vinson. They had good weather yesterday but last night was a bit uncomfortable as the wind got up again. The plan for today is to move up to the high camp (3800m) and have a rest day. If everything’s looking promising then they could be looking at a summit attempt on Wednesday 24th.
19th January – The team have now arrived in Antarctica after a memorable flight. At one point they diverted to the southernmost point of Argentina and the flight was almost aborted due to the weather but they got there in the end. They landed at 3.00am but with 24 hour daylight they were still able to pitch the tents and get themselves settled. The skies are blue and the sun’s beating down but there’s a vicious low level storm blowing across the ice which is creating fairly unpleasant conditions. The next leg of their journey is by a small Twin Otter aeroplane to Mt Vinson’s base camp but this’ll mean more waiting until the winds ease.
18th January – They’re off!! We had a quick e-mail from Dave at 3pm GMT saying they’re off in the next 5 minutes. Fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t change during the flight but our next communication should be by sat phone from the Patriot Hills base camp on Antarctica…
17th January – The waiting game continues! There’s now a fair bit of snow on the runway in the Patriot Hills but things can change very quickly in these extreme latitudes. We received this report from Dave this afternoon…’It is now the morning of the 17th January and we´ve now been waiting seven days for the correct weather to allow our flight onto Antarctica. The news today is a little more positive….and maybe by 4pm (Chilean time -3hrs GMT)we will get the go ahead. So why the wait? The flight to Patriot Hills, the base on Antarctica close to Mt Vinson, is by means of a Russian Illusion Jet, an enormous cargo operating beast! The flight is around 4.5hrs and lands on a blue ice runway (pure ice) on wheels, not ski´s. The blue ice runway is a natural feature around 3kms long, clear of crevasses, deep snow etc BUTis effected by Catabatic winds, that blow across the runway. These cross winds can’t be more than 20kms per hr, there must also be good visibility and contrast to enable manual landings to be made and the temperature must be around -10C to ensure the runway is not too slippery…NOT an easy shopping list for this extreme continent. So we must be patient, most flights generally go in on time or within 2 days of the schedule date. Its not until you´ve actually been to Patriot hills that you can fully appreciate the logistics involved, but its well worth the wait to become one of the privileged few.So in the meantime we´ve got to know the streets of Punta Arenas quite well over the last week, along with the odd short visit to see Magellan Penguins, the local ski slopes (without snow, its summer down here) for a walk, a bit of a wild life tour where Condors, Wild Rhea (kind of Ostrich), Red necked swans, Sea Lion were a few of our sightings along with seeing some local culture such as sheep shearing. John even managed a bit of a horse ride! The team have gone in the search of Whale´s today.’ Dave Pritt
Message for Caris Biltcliffe & all at Fringford School from her dad Simon Biltcliffe ” still waiting in Punta Arenas. Been here for a week now looking to get onto Antarctica as it is too windy & snowy to land the Russian cargo plane. Hope to have moved to Antarctica soon!”
13th January – I’m afraid it’s still too windy and it’s even started snowing in Antarctica. Surprisingly this is fairly rare as it’s one of the driest places on the planet. The winds are 23 kph, gusting 27 but were 35 kph overnight. They need to drop below 20 kph before the flight will go.
12th January – They’re still in Chile but on a 3 hour standby for the flight. There’s been too much wind and/or cloud so far but they’re all raring to go as soon as they get the word.
8th January – Well the team are now safely in Chile and awaiting their flight to Antarctica. However, bad weather is stopping play at the moment so its just a matter of waiting until they get the call.
6th January – The team departed from Gatwick today for the long flight to South America.