Vinson Trip Report

Well, after many hours over the last week, I think I finally finished the long-winded trip report of our Vinson experience. I apologize for the length of it (much longer than the other 7 Summits reports), but Vinson was our last of the 7 Summits and so it has a right to be long, right? So, if you have a good chunk of time and want to check it out, the report is located under our Expeditions tab or just click Vinson Trip Report. Hope you enjoy!

Antarctica Preview

I believe Antarctica was one of the most special, majestic, remote, scenic, and amazing places Kristine and I have ever been. It was truly a privilege to be there and is comforting to know there is still a huge landmass larger than the continental USA that is virtually untouched and as pristine a landscape as one can imagine. The trip was overall exceptional and it was well worth the expense to us. We will likely never ever go there again, so we tried to soak up our 12 days on the continent as much as possible. Although Kristine has dreams of us working at Union Glacier way down the road. I guess never say “never”, right? Of course, only after we live in Sweden and then live in Pangboche in the Khumbu Valley for 6 months. Everything about the trip was amazing including the Russian Ilyushin-76 flight, Union Glacier, the ANI organization, the twin otter flight to the mountain, our team of awesome people and ANI guides, the climb of Vinson, our side climb of Knutzen Peak, and the days following our climb of Vinson at base camp filled with fun, friends, sledding, and skiing. Some of our Vinson team had a great night out on the town once back in Punta Arenas (some of us a little too much fun) and then Kristine and I headed north via several buses to Torres del Paine afterwards and spent three days and nights at the national park camping and day hiking. We then finally visited the Magellanic Penguin on Magdalena Island, a 2 hour ferry ride from Punta Arenas the morning before we flew out. All in all, an experience to be remembered forever.

Having just returned home last night, we still have yet to unpack and recover, but I wanted to send our some of our favorite pictures I went through today and edited. Please click on any picture to enlarge. Hopefully, these will suffice until we are able to complete our trip report over the next few weeks. I will most definitely post an update when that trip report is available.

A huge congratulations to our good friend and Vinson climbing companion Kevin Vann for completing his journey to climb the 7 Summits of the world. We met Kevin on Denali over 6 years ago when he was climbing with our other good friend Rob Casserley and today we are all just as good of friends (if not better) as we were in Anchorage after that climb of Denali in 2007. Kevin claims he has the record of the 2nd longest to complete the 7 Summits at like 27 years or something. Whatever the duration may be, its a great accomplishment. Well done, Kev!

Lastly, thanks to our great friend Scott Hook for receivng my satellite phone calls during the climb and updating this blog. From what I have gathered from others and have read myself, he did a wonderful job that was much appreciated by us all. Thanks, Scoot!

The Russian Ilyushin-76 after landing at Union Glacier. This plane is a beast and Kristine and I felt more comfortable in it than in any other plane we have ever been on (even with an all-Russian cabin and pilot crew)

The Russian Ilyushin-76 after landing at Union Glacier. This plane is a beast and Kristine and I felt more comfortable in it than in any other plane we have ever been on (even with an all-Russian cabin and pilot crew)

Union Glacier and our little clam tents we unfortunately only spent one night in before flying to Vinson

Union Glacier and our little clam tents we unfortunately only spent one night in before flying to Vinson

An awesome looking peak and even more enticing snake-like ridge on one of the smaller peaks as seen on the flight to Vinson

An awesome looking peak and even more enticing snake-like ridge on one of the smaller peaks as seen on the flight to Vinson

Vinson base camp and Mt. Vinson towering 9,000' above in the distance. The left tent was our ANI dining tent and the right tent is the food storage tent

Vinson base camp and Mt. Vinson towering 9,000′ above in the distance. The left tent was our ANI dining tent and the right tent is the food storage tent

Moving to Low Camp at 9,500'

Moving to Low Camp

Low Camp (around 9,100')

Low Camp (around 9,100′). I took this picture around 2am

Land of the midnight sun

Land of the midnight sun

Kristine & our wonderful guide David Hamilton climbing the rarely climbed Knutzen Peak from Low Camp. This climb was a fun assortment of glacier travel and our familiar rock scrambling (albeit with Millet Everest boots on, crampons, roped up, and in -10 degree weather)

Kristine & our wonderful guide David Hamilton climbing the rarely climbed Knutzen Peak from Low Camp. This climb was a fun assortment of glacier travel and our familiar rock scrambling (albeit with Millet Everest boots on, crampons, roped up, and in -10 degree weather)

Me on the summit of Knutzen Peak

Me on the summit of Knutzen Peak (3373m or around 11,100′)

David, Kevin, & Kristine on the fixed ropes to High Camp

David, Kevin, & Kristine on the fixed ropes to High Camp

Kevin & Kristine at the top of the fixed ropes with Knutzen Peak in the background

Kevin & Kristine at the top of the fixed ropes with Knutzen Peak in the background

Our view from High Camp (around 13,200')

Our view from High Camp (around 13,200′)

Kristine on summit day up the less climbed and a bit more technical west ridge of Vinson. We were about 1,000' below the summit at this point

Kristine on summit day up the less climbed and a bit more technical west ridge of Vinson. We were about 1,000′ below the summit at this point

Kristine & I on Vinson's distinct summit for lucky #7! The picture doesn't do the conditions justice (-28 degree F air temp with 35mph winds pushing the windchill well beyond -50 degree F)

Kristine & I on Vinson’s distinct summit for lucky #7! The picture doesn’t do the conditions justice (-28 degree F air temp with 35mph winds pushing the windchill well below -50 degree F)

It was a wonderful moment together on top of the bottom of the world

It was a wonderful moment together on top of the bottom of the world

Kristine, Kevin, and I concluding all of our 7 Summits endeavors

Kristine, Kevin, and I concluding all of our 7 Summits endeavors

In honor of my grandfather Pop-Pop (Chuck Wimbrow), who passed away this past July, I brought the painted blue rock with smiley face I gave him when I was very very young and in which was given back to me after Pop-Pop passed. Pop-Pop was definitely up there in spirit with us. Nevermind the fact he would have hated the cold :)

In honor of my grandfather Pop-Pop (Chuck Wimbrow), who passed away this past July, I brought the painted blue rock with smiley face dubbed “Pet Rock” that I gave him when I was very very young and which was given back to me after he passed. Pop-Pop was definitely up there in spirit with us. Nevermind the fact he would have hated the cold :)

Kristine & I back in our little cook tent at High Camp after an 8 1/2 hour summit day

Kristine & I back in our little cook tent at High Camp after an 8 1/2 hour summit day

A great evening at High Camp very happy with our successful finale of the 7 Summits together

A great evening at High Camp very happy with our successful finale of the 7 Summits together

A big Christmas Day celebration in the dining tent with our whole ANI crew back at base camp

A big Christmas Day celebration in the dining tent with our whole ANI crew back at base camp

Some of our crew went sledding the day after we arrived back down at base camp. Left to right: Harry, Halla, Kristine, Andy, & Chase

Some of our crew went sledding the day after we arrived back down at base camp. Left to right: Harry, Halla, Kristine, Andy, & Chase (Mt. Vinson standing tall behind)

The 2nd day down at base camp we went skiing. First time I have had my heel locked down in 10 years. A strange feeling but fun all the same. The ANI crew was nice enough to lend us there AT setups and we skied the local peak dubbed "Ski Hill" for a great 2,000' run back to Vinson base camp

Kristine & I on top of Ski Hill. The 2nd day down at base camp we went skiing. First time I have had my heel locked down in 10 years. A strange feeling but fun all the same. The ANI crew was nice enough to lend us there AT setups and we skied the local peak dubbed “Ski Hill” for a great 2,000′ run back to Vinson base camp

Kristine skiing the ridge down Ski Hill

Kristine skiing the ridge down Ski Hill

Great powder turns ensued down the face

Great powder turns ensued down the face

The old DC-3 picked us up on the Antarctic Plateau after the twin otters were not available to fly into Vinson base camp. This was a treat yet involved us hauling all of our gear for a few hours below base camp

The old DC-3 picked us up on the Antarctic Plateau after the twin otters were not available to fly into Vinson base camp. This was a treat yet involved us hauling all of our gear for a few hours below base camp

Me and Namyga Sherpa (11 Everest summits) before he took the sleds back to base camp. Kristine and I really enjoyed getting to know Namyga and spending time with such a wonderful person. Hopefully, we will see him soon here in Colorado. Namyga is a guide/ranger for ANI during the Antarctic summers

Me and Namyga Sherpa (11 Everest summits) before he took the sleds back to base camp. Kristine and I really enjoyed getting to know Namyga and spending time with such a wonderful person. He even gave Kristine a going away present. Hopefully, we will see him soon here in Colorado. Namyga is a guide/ranger for ANI during the Antarctic summers

Kristien & I below the Torres del Paine after getting a clear day to view these magnificient towers on our 2nd day hiking up to them (the first day was socked in with snow and fog - typical Patagonia weather)

Kristine & I below the Torres del Paine after getting a clear day to view these magnificient towers on our 2nd day hiking up to them (the first day was socked in with snow and fog – typical Patagonia weather)

The MagallensPenguins

The Magellanic Penguin. Kristine was instantly in love

Back down at High Camp

The Chalks just called from their tent back at High Camp at 6:00pm Vinson time / 2:00pm Mountain time.  They said the air temp on top was -29F, but with the windchill it was about -50F.  That certainly lives up to Vinson’s reputation as the coldest of the Seven Summits, which Brandon confirmed.  Otherwise the weather was good, the sky was clear, and aside from a few blisters and some bruising from their boots, the couple is doing great after a 9 hour summit day.  We have some pictures to look forward to, but we’ll have to wait a little while to see them.

Tomorrow they will make the descent to Base Camp where there will hopefully be a Christmas party where they can celebrate this amazing achievement.  They’ll then spend a day or two skiing around Base Camp before flying back to Union Glacier.  Their flight back to Chile is scheduled for the 29th.

Mt. Vinson Summit!

I just answered a call from Brandon that started with his trademark “WOOOO BUDDY!!”.  He and Kristine were calling from the top of Mt Vinson at 2:35pm Vinson time / 10:35am Mountain time!  The call was extremely short because it was -45 F on top and they needed to get back down to High Camp where it was warmer (relatively).  He’ll call later today to fill in the details, but the important thing is they made it!

High Camp!

Brandon and Kristine called to check in from High Camp at 10:30 Antarctica time!   They said it was a really good climb, taking about 6 hours with really big packs.  This is their last uphill day with those packs, which they are very excited about.

It looks like those high winds died down, and now that the weather is so good they are going to go for the summit tomorrow!  They plan on setting off around 8:00 or 9:00 am, and should summit six hours later, which should be 10:00 or 11:00 am back home in Colorado.  I’ll post an update as soon as I hear from them at the top.  If you haven’t sent them a text message yet and want to wish them good luck, now would be the time to do it!

Low Camp Day 2

Brandon and Kristine have hopefully spent their last day at Low Camp!  Brandon said that it looks like the winds are starting to die down and there is a 75% chance that they will be moving to High Camp tomorrow (December 23rd).  They will hopefully summit on Christmas Eve or Christmas.   Otherwise it was a pretty boring day for them.  It was -29 F this morning and didn’t rise above 0 F all day, so they stayed in the tents, read, and played cards.  Everyone is in good spirits, though, and they are excited to get moving again.  With any luck the next update will come from High Camp!