First Day at Low Camp

Brandon and Kristine made the most of a down day at Low Camp yesterday (Dec 21st).  They went and climbed a nearby 13,000 foot peak, which only gets climbed about once a year.  How cool is that?  The peak had a nice little scramble and glacier climb that led up to the summit and a great view of Vinson.

They went to bed around 10:00pm in their -40F sleeping bags, and said it was “really really cold outside”.  The forecast was calling for more high winds at High Camp today and they may choose to spend another day at Low Camp to let them die down.  Fortunately their schedule gives them a full 10 days on the ice for exactly this reason.

Started Climbing

Brandon and Kristine called to check in at 11:30pm Antarctica time last night.  The climb from Base Camp to Low Camp at 9,500 feet took about 4 hours with sleds.  It got surprisingly hot about half way into the climb, but was once again very cold by the time they made it to camp.   Unfortunately, the weather service is calling for high winds today so they are planning on staying at Low Camp for the day.  They may go out for a quick hike during the day, but they expect to spend most of their time in the tents.  On Sunday they will push up to High Camp with a possible summit run on Monday.

They thank everyone for the text messages (yes, they have been receiving them), but wanted to remind everyone that they can’t respond without being charged a small fortune.

Mt Vinson Base Camp

Brandon and Kristine made it to base camp yesterday.  Brandon said the flight from Union Glacier to Mt. Vinson was pretty incredible.  He took some video of the flight, so we can probably expect an upload when they get back.  They slept fine, despite the fact the sun never sets, and got up in the late morning.  It is so cold that they have to wait until it warms up in the late morning before getting out of their tent.

Today, they went for a short climb up Ski Peak, and then went back to camp for dinner.  Tomorrow they will climb to the next camp.

Stay tuned for more!

Made it to Antarctica

Brandon and Kristine have made it safely to Antarctica! They flew from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier late last night, landing on the ice at about 3:30am.  They had a quick dinner and were in bed by 4:00am.  They woke up just before lunch, and will be making the 30 minute flight to Mt. Vinson base camp later this afternoon.  Tomorrow they hope to move to Camp 1. Brandon said that the weather looks good and with any luck the round trip climb could be completed in just 3 to 5 days.  So everyone keep your fingers crossed and wish these three a safe, fast, and amazing climb!

Off to Antarctica!

Well, its about that time we depart for the deep south! Kristine & I have laid all our gear & clothing out and still have a few items to pick up, but for the most part we’re ready to leave tomorrow, December 14. Our scheduled return to Denver is Sunday, January 5. If all goes well and weather allows for on-schedule flights, we arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile Sunday evening, December 15, fly on the Russian Ilyushin-76 to Union Glacier, Antarctica on Tuesday, December 17, and fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile on Monday, December 30. If that is the case, Kristine & I will have 4-5 days in southern Chile to tour around and hopefully do some hiking & backpacking in Chilean Patagania north of Punta Arenas. But, if we cannot fly back to Punta Arenas from Antarctica until later, that’s just how it is. Let’s just hope we make our Saturday, January 4 flight back to the USA!

I’m bringing my Santa hat and hopefully if weather allows and the stars align, we should be attempting the summit of Vinson sometime around Christmas! Christmas on the ice! I like the sound of that.

I don’t think Kristine & I have been on a guided trip in well over a decade, but as much as we didn’t like the idea at first, we’re pretty excited to be a part of an ALE/ANI guided trip up Vinson, especially since its just Kristine, myself, our friend Kevin Vann, and a guide for a team of four. ALE/ANI essentially runs the show in Antarctica and all I’ve heard is wonderful things about the company, the staff, their planes (including the Russian Ilyushin-76) and all of the provisions provided. I am sure it will be top-notch.

I just received our new satellite phone number. The number is 8816-3162-2840. Now, folks can text us as much as they would like for free and we encourage that! Just know that we cannot text you back without costing us an arm and a leg. But, know we are reading them! To text us, go to and click “send a satellite message” at the top of the screen. Enter the satellite phone number, your email address, and the 160 character maximum text message. Its pretty easy.

OK, well, I think that’s about it. Our good friend Scott Hook who climbed Kilimanjaro with us in 2011 will be receiving our satellite phone calls and updating this blog hopefully fairly often so stay tuned for updates. Hopefully, Vinson is lucky #7 for Kristine, myself, and Kevin. Thanks for all the well wishes & positive vibes!

I’ll leave you with a really neat video of the Russian Ilyushin-76, which we will be flying, landing at Union Glacier, Antarctica:

Shelf Road Winter Cragging

Kristine wanted to write the trip report for our 16 day Aconcagua climb this past December/January and so she went with it and I think she did a great job. Its a tad lengthy (mostly due to all the pics I added – I just love pics), but for those that do read it I hope you enjoy. The trip report is under our “Expeditions” tab on our site or just click Aconcagua 2013.

Now, onto last weekend’s activities. We spent a mid-March winter weekend down in the relative warmth of the high desert near Canon City at the rock climbing mecca that is known as Shelf Road. Good friends Mike Santoro, Kaitlin Preston, Reid & Tara Jennings, Nico & Celeste Cizik, Matt & Kari Reigner, and of course the one and only, Jesse Hill all joined in on the fun. Our usual dog pack accompanied us comprising Rainier, Kona, Piton, Sterling, Purna, & Snyder. Shelf offers world class sport climbing with a trad crack thrown in here and there with great camping and moderate winter temperatures. Saturday turned to be a mostly overcast and chilly climbing day while Sunday definitely warmed up. We did get about an hour of rain Saturday evening in which we all scurried for the mess tent, indiviual tents, and cars, but its nothing that a roaring campfire and Jesse’s awesome jambalaya couldn’t fix. All in all, it was a great weekend in which we pretty much completely spent ourselves, our forearms, and especially our fingers on the sharp limestone rock both days. I still feel like I was in an all day long bare-knuckle fight. I think we all do. A few pics of the fun are as follows:

Our crew at the Bank area on Saturday. Photo by Tara Jennings

Our crew at the Bank area on Saturday. Photo by Tara Jennings

Kona, Snyder, & Rainier are good belayers

Kona, Snyder, & Rainier are good belayers. Photo by Tara Jennings

Kristine & I checking out Jesse's sport route in which he made into a mixed sprt/trad route as is typical Jesse Hill fashion

Kristine & I checking out Jesse’s sport route in which he made into a mixed sport/trad route as is typical Jesse Hill fashion. Photo by Tara Jennings

Celeste in the thick of it on Ripped (5.10b), a trad crack in which Jesse & Matt led

Celeste in the thick of it on Ripped (5.10b), a trad crack in which Jesse & Matt led

Then, to the Cactus Cliff area in the sun on Sunday

Then, to the Cactus Cliff area on a sunny Sunday

Jesse leading a 5.9

Jesse leading the lower part of Red Eclipse (5.10c)

Jesse on the 5.9

Jesse leading Red Eclipse (5.10c)

Kristine on another 5.9 route we set up

Kristine on Black Slabbeth (5.10a)

Kristine in the heat of the 5.9 delayered to her t-shirt

Kristine in the heat of Black Slabbeth (5.10a) delayered to her t-shirt

Mike on a fun 5.10 arete

Mike on the fun arete called Beef Cake Formula (5.8)

Reid flying high

Reid flying high on You Show Me Your Heavy Weapon, I’ll Show you Mine (5.7)

Me leading the really fun Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me leading the really fun Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me in the dihedral of Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me in the dihedral of Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Rainie relaxing

Rainie relaxing

Me having pulled the mini-roof on Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me having pulled the mini-roof on Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me at the anchors for Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Me at the anchors for Candy for Big Kids (5.10d)

Kristine flying up

Kristine at the crux of Red Eclipse (5.10c)