2003 - 2004 Mount Vinson & South Pole Cybercast

January 22, 2004. Punta Arenas. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and loved ones, this is Vern Tejas reporting in from Punta Arenas, Chile.  We flew late into the night, got here just about midnight and it was a fine and all-night diner to celebrate in.  It was wonderful. We're at, presently, just above sea level about 143 feet, and it's windy, sunny, the air is thick, the green grass is beautiful, the birds are singing, we're really enjoying all that.  However we are in the process of trying to scramble our way out of here.  Once our plane landed we had many people trying to make reservations, everybody's jamming and jockeying for positions on the first flights back to America and Canada I might add.  So just know that we are missing you guys dearly and we are in the phase of motivation here. 

We spent the morning at the airline office changing tickets, paying change fees and trying to get on the ext flight. So people are going to be trickling out of here and back to the States.  This is the height of their tourist season down here, so the planes are fairly full, but we're on our way! And as a matter of fact, two folks have left and more are going to the airport as we speak.  We're coming home, thank you so much, the is Vern Tejas for Alpine Ascents, our Vinson season is now coming to a close. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see ya next time, ciao for now.

January 21, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hey there friends and loved ones, this is Vern Tejas at Union Glacier, Antarctica.  The weather is finally working in our favor. Thank you very much for keeping your fingers crossed and praying for us.  The wind has dropped enough that the plane has launched, the Illuyshin aircraft has launched from Punta Arenas, Chile, and is now on the way to Union Glacier.  We anticipate them landing here in the next hour and a half to two hours and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the wind doesn't come up so much that they have to turn back.  So all of us are very anxious to get back home and to be with you again, we are very much looking forward to the flight.

We have a little bit of clouds on the northern horizon and hopefully they won't violate our airspace.  Everybody's packed, all the tents are folded up, put away, everybody's got big smiles on their face, so we're looking forward to being reunited with you very shortly. Thank you very much for standing by with us, I will give you one more last update when when get on the continent and we are homeward bound, so once we get back to South America, you will have your final sign off with this cybercast.  Once again thanks for dropping in and having an expedition with us, one that we will not forget. Once again, I'm Vern Tejas for Alpine Ascents Japanese Team, Blue Ice and the Invinsonables. We're hoping to be homeward bound in another couple hours.  So from Union Glacier at 2,143 feet above sea level, ciao for now.

January 19, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello cybernauts, this is Vern Tejas with the Invinsonables/Blue Ice/Japanese Team down in Antarctica. It's been another depressing day...and we're just trying to get by...In the meantime we're just going to have to make due. We're all stuck tent-bound in a huge blizzard. So please keep you fingers crossed and soon we'll be out of here.  Thank you very much for following us and please tune in tomorrow to find out if we made it through the night.

January 18, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and family this is Vern Tejas with Team Blue Ice.  We are located in Union Glacier, 80 degrees South, 80 degrees west, that's latitude and longitude of course. And we are at about 2,143 feet above sea level here, and the wind is blowing at about 30-35 knots.  That's why we're still here, they can't land the plane in the cross winds. And even though the skies are clear and it is a beautiful day, there is no plane flying.

However that doesn't mean that we're not flying.  Today we got out the kites and man what a rippin storm it was.  We were flying all around, we put skies on and we were readily going 30mph and it's really a whole lot of fun, it's just a blast. I mean if you're going to be trapped down here in these high winds, you might as well enjoy those winds, and we did today, we got out some kites, and they flew us as well.   So you can imagine how much fun we had,  The team is doing well, still in high spirits, even though they would really like to leave this place at this point.

Just know if you're picking up people at the airport, that they may be delayed somewhat, so please stay tuned and make sure that you know we got out of here, before you got to the airport and pick anyone of us up.  Just wanted to pass that along and tell you that we're thinking of you and missing you dearly, love to all, ciao for now.

January 18, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hi this is Forrest McCarthy calling in for Alpine Ascents' Team Invinsonables and the rest of the Mount Vinson expeditions.  We're still hanging out here at Union Glacier there's still a strong cross-wind coming out of the South off the central plateau of Antarctica sweeping across our ice runway.  Perpendicular to the way the Illuyshin jet needs to land so not ideal flying weather yet so we're hoping that the winds are going to stop here at some point and we will get back to Chile and other places onward, like home. 

However the winds have made a lot of fun, we've managed to get out and get in some t-sailing and a lot of kiting today, that was fun, and also a few of the folks went on some big hikes, and just kind of having the Antarctic experience and making the best of our time here. Other than that this is Forrest McCarthy at Union Glacier in Antarctica.

January 17, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello there friends and family, this is Vern Tejas with Team Blue Ice and the Invinsonables.  We've escaped the foggy grips of Vinson Base Camp, the twin otters flew in and picked up the rest of our team and we are now happily ensconced in Union Glacier.  We've been waiting out high winds, and hoping that the Russian-made Illuyshin airplane will be coming in to pick us up.  We're currently located at about 2,143 feet above sea level, at the base of what we call the Union Glacier which is a small ridge of mountains that blocks the wind as it comes off the cold. The wind comes over, the Katabatic winds polish the glacier down to blue ice and that allows our plane to land with wheels.

So we're hoping that the skies continue to be clear and that the winds drop enough to allow the plane to come in and pick us up tomorrow morning.  So please keep your fingers crossed and soon we should be winging our way back to you if the weather cooperates at all. Thank you very much for following the cybercast. And we'll continue to give you updates until we get back to the continent of South America.  Ciao for now, cheers.

January 16, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Eric's Call
Hey Everybody this is Eric Larson calling you from Union Glacier. Today is the 16th, it's 11:00 at night, the sun's shining strong, the winds are dying, so hopefully the Illuyshin will come in soon and take us out of here.  But in the meantime, everybody's back safely, all 36 of us, and we're sitting here in the rec hall that we built for an international jam session.  We got the harmonica running, we got the guitar, the violin, the didgeridoo from Forrest and the Japanese girls are singing some traditional songs for us.  It's a good time, we're all sitting around, eating pudding, and hanging out and enjoying each other's company. We'll give you a call tomorrow and let you know what's going on.  This is Eric signing off.

January 16, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hey everybody this is Forrest McCarthy with Team Invinsonables calling in from Union Glacier.  We returned yesterday to the main blue ice runway from Vinson Base Camp after descending down. We had a nice joyful night back in here in the big city of nowhere and looking forward to hopefully getting a ride on the Illuyshin aircraft back to Chile here soon.

We been enjoying some big steak dinner and some wine and we're also getting lots of rest after our big climb. I have a message from Dianette, she says, "Brianna, Johnny, and McKenna I love you, Mom". And that's all for now from Team Invinsonables.

January 16, 2004. Union Glacier. Click for CallListen To Eric's Call
Hey everybody this is Eric Larson reporting to you at Union Glacier Base Camp.  We pulled up here from Vinson Base Camp about 5 hours ago and just had a great dinner of steak, rice and vegetables. Everybody made it back to Union Glacier and we're just waiting for the weather to clear and get back home. 

But i also wanted to report that Team Blue Ice and Team Invinsonables, two members from each, myself Eric and Tony from Team Blue Ice and Ward and Rob from Team Invinsonables we left together yesterday and went for a climb on Mount Shinn. We took off at about 11:22 summited around 4:30 and got back down to Camp II which is between Shinn and Vinson around 6:52. And then we packed up our camp and then moved on down to Vinson Base Camp at 12:45am to meet the rest of the group. We were successful summiting Shinn, it's the third highest peak in Antarctica and we did a new variation of the mountain, it's called the Sokrwe Route. We went up one way and came down a different way and everybody did really well, we had some challenging faces to deal with and blue ice and third class rock climbing, but all went well and we got back to Base Camp pretty late last night and enjoyed some Japanese noodles and company with the other Japanese Team that was there and I think you'll hear another cybercast from us soon so report to you want went on, this is Eric Larson signing off, bye.

January 15, 2004. High Camp. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and family, loved ones there, this is Vern Tejas with Blue Ice. Team Blue Ice has just successfully completed a descent from high Camp of Mount Vinson.  We had a fantastic summit day yesterday, did it in record time and it was clear calm and beautiful on top.  Now that we've gone down to the land of oxygen, and we're very much enjoying it, we feel warm all over even though the temperature is still only about 12 degrees right now, we're so much warmer now that we've got more oxygen, and boy we're really enjoying it. 

We had a nice celebration party after picking up our big packs and sleds, we had a long trek down. But is was quite wonderful to get here. We did make the mistake of letting Jeanne lead for a little while on the way down, of course she put it in overdrive and almost drove all the guys to their deaths. Other than that it was a pretty non-eventful descent. And we've got a couple of team members currently trying to climb Mount Shinn, we'll find out hopefully in a few hours whether or not they'll be successful.  So thanks for dialing in and tuning in for this cybercast, we're now going to be waiting for the weather so stand by, stay tuned and hopefully in the next cybercast or two we'll be able to tell you we're in Union Glacier and on our way back home. Ciao for now.

January 15, 2004. High Camp.  Click for CallListen To Andy's Call
Hey folks this is Andy Tyson, with the Adventure Guides and Alpine Ascents Japanese Mount Vinson Expedition. I just wanted to give you a little news update. We moved along nicely over the first few days kind of on a different schedule than the other crews that were out here, and we ended up to Camp III two days ago, and we had the good weather that I think Team Invinsonables used to summit, and then woke to good weather yesterday morning and went ahead and headed up the hill with Team Blue Ice.  They were a little ahead of us and summited as well. We summited around 9:00 with all members.

Everybody is doing really well. There's two guides on the expedition, myself and Kenji Kondo and there's 6 members, a whole array of folks from Japan, and Kenji is cybercasting this on the Adventure Guides website, and you're welcome to check that out and there's bios on the all the members, with pictures and descriptions of the route and all that kind of stuff on that website, so check that out.  But we were successful, everyone getting to the top, and have come down last night, a nice long day and now we're looking at heading on back down to Base today, as it sounds like some of the other teams up here at Camp III or High Camp. That's it, hope you enjoy, and that's just a little news update from our expedition, thanks a bunch, bye.

January 14, 2004. High Camp.  Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hi this is Forrest McCarthy and Lakpa Sherpa calling in from High Camp on Mount Vinson.  Team Invinsonables just spent a nice relaxing day recovering from our summit day yesterday, it was another beautiful day up here. We're glad to report that Team Blue Ice summited, and it sounds like they had a great day and we were able to cheer them on as they came back into camp.  And we're just looking forward to starting to work our way back to Union Glacier then on Chile and then home.  I think most guys are pretty homesick and looking forward to seeing their families, so we're hoping that this great weather holds for a few more days so we can make our way back, other than that this is Team Invinsonables at Mount Vinson, clear for now.

January 14, 2004. Summit. Click for CallListen To Eric's Call
Hey everybody this is Eric Larson with Team Blue Ice. We're calling you directly from the highest point in Antarctica, Mount Vinson at 16,143. Everybody did really well, we did that roughly in 8 hours exactly.  We summited at just before 6:00 and we're taking summit photos right now, we have about a 2mph breeze on the summit.  People are staying pretty warm and it's a beautiful day up here.  And the visibility, you can see for over 100 miles, you can see the whole Massif, it's amazing.  Everybody did really well once again, and we'll give you a report from High Camp and tell you that we got back safely down at the saddle. This is Eric Larson signing off from the highest point in Antarctica.

January 13, 2004. High Camp.  Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hey folks this is Forrest McCarthy and Lakpa Sherpa calling in for Team Invinsonables. We are back here at High Camp and very glad to report that we had a beautiful summit day and all 11 of us stood up on the summit of the Vinson Massif.  It was a big long day, about 13, 14 hours and everybody is pretty tired and looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning.

But we had just absolutely beautiful weather going all the way up.  It's hard to believe we were in Antarctica.  But everybody did great today and everybody summited and we're all back down, everybody's back down in high Camp, nice and safe.  So that's all for now from Team Invinsonables.

January 13, 2004. High Camp. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends family and loved ones this is Vern Tejas with Blue Ice. Team Ice Blue has been laying around all day long eating and drinking and soaking up the calories. And we have been discussing water containers for our summit push.  Everybody here knows that you need at least 3 maybe 4 liters of water to go for 12 hours, so where do you get that from? Well we have to talk to Ms. Jeanne Stawiecki to find out. 

Tomorrow, the weather be willing and if everybody is feeling good, which we think they will be, because they are laughing up a storm tonight, we are planning on getting a bright early rise and hopefully be out of here before 10:00 in the morning and shoot up to the summit, the highest point in Antarctica, Mt. Vinson, approximately 16,143 feet above sea level.  So please stand by and stay tuned for the further adventures of Team Blue Ice. Ciao for now.

January 12, 2004. High Camp. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hey friends and family, loved ones out there, this is Vern Tejas and Eric Larson with Blue Ice, reporting in from high on Vinson.  We're at our High Camp at about 143 feet below 13,000 above sea level and the weather is good.  And the team is psyched but we're just hoping that maybe we'll get a cloud to blow in tomorrow and we can hang out and spend a rest day cuz we're a little tuckered from coming up here.  It's about 2 in the morning right now, we're making hot water for everybody, and they're packing it out so that they can launch for the summit in the morning and we'll just see how that goes. 

There's two big variables that everyone should understand, weather and personnel. We jumped up a pretty high altitude in a short amount of time and we're going to be checking everybody early in the morning and seeing how healthy they are, seeing if they feel like they could pull a 12-hour summit day.  If anybody is not up to snuff, we're going to just put it on hold and take a rest and let everybody acclimatize.  We don't want to squander the good weather, that's for sure, however, sometimes you just have to do what's right, so we'll see what it looks like in the morning and hopefully you guys can keep your fingers crossed for us and we'll give you another update hopefully a little bit higher up the mountain.  That's ciao for now, stay tuned.

January 12, 2004. High Camp.  Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hey everybody this is Forrest McCarthy calling in for Team Invinsonables.  We're glad to report that we had a beautiful day today and made it up to High Camp just under 13,000 feet. The sun has set behind the mountain at this point and it's a bit cool, but everybody got up here really strong and is looking really good and seems to be excited to tag the top of Mount Vinson. 

Weather permitting tomorrow, we may give it a go, so hopefully the next cybercast we may have already been to the summit, but if the weather is marginal, we're going to wait another day, it will help us acclimatize anyhow. 

Got a couple of messages, this one is from Randy he says "Hi Doris, I love you and happy belated birthday Tanya".  I also have a message from Roy to Stephanie, Sky and R2, he loves you.  I look forward to posting the next message tomorrow, whether or not we're hanging here at high camp or maybe we've already been to the top.  That's it for Team Invinsonables.

January 11, 2004. Camp I. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
A big howdy to friends and family, this is Team Blue Ice reporting in from Antarctica at the base of Mount Vinson Camp I.  Today was a very uplifting day, we moved all of our food and fuel up to High Camp up the notorious headwall, broken with seracs and crevasses and had just wonderful views today, this was one of the first days that the clouds were lifted, we were able to look around a little bit, we saw Pyramid Peak and took a few photos of that and skipped across a couple of crevasses and got our camp started up at 13,143 feet above sea level, our High Camp, got our kitchen started, did a real nice job opening that up and put a V-Wall up at the head of our platform so when we get up there tomorrow or whenever the weather allows, we will end up being able to dive right into Camp building in earnest.

In the meantime, we have now descended back down to the land of oxygen and warmth and sunshine and boy howdy, we had steak and potatoes, Eric whipped it up and we chowed it right down and we topped it off with a little bit of ice cream and cake.  You know how far it is to go to the local grocery store to get that ice cream? Anyway it was quite loverly. Now we're just bedding down, the evening is kind of winding on.  I think it's only about 2:00 in the morning.  The sun's still up and so are we, but when it goes behind the mountain it will become notoriously cold as it was this morning at about 13 below Celsius, yes indeed.  So just wanted to keep you all updated and tell you that we are sending our best wishes your way.  Maybe you'll send your best wishes our way for the good weather and we're going to say ciao for now, talk to you soon.

What a sun dog, whoo hoo.  Wow, it's a double one guys.  Check it out, I was just looking at the sun reflecting through the ice crystals in the sky and we have a double perihelion sun dog, amazing, nighty night. Oh hey, and one other big birthday wish to Jeanne! Ciao for now.

January 11, 2004. Camp I.  Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hi this is Forrest McCarthy calling in for Team Invinsonables.  We just returned to Camp I from our carry to our High Camp.  We carried a bunch of fuel and food, about 3,000 vertical up to the col between Mount Shinn and Mount Vinson, and it was just a beautiful day, finally the clouds and the fog just dissipated off and we had nothing but beautiful sunshine, snow was great cramponing up the headwall, we climbed about a 45 degree slope up to the high camp spot today, and we had a very enjoyable descent back down to Camp I. 

Another wonderful day everybody is feeling really strong and we're looking forward to, weather permitting, moving up to our High Camp tomorrow.  I have message from Rob, and he says best wishes to all those that love tigers and want to save the tiger and increase the numbers of tigers in the world.  He also wants to let everyone know that back in Scotland the weather is better than in Antarctica and he's hardly worn gloves at all.  So that's all from Forrest and Team Invinsonables.

January 10, 2004. Camp I. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hey there cybernauts, this is Team Blue Ice checking in.  We pushed up from Base Camp all the way up to Camp I, situated on the West face of Mount Vinson today.  It was a very warm day, fortunately we had a slight overcast haze which kept the sun from just melting us.  It would have been sweltersville if we had not had just a little bit of cloud cover.  It's a fairly long haul up here, up to 10,143 feet above sea level, but it's quite clear so you can look around, yesterday was a complete whiteout, today at least we can see the routes of the mountain, many snow gullies coming down, a couple of ice streams flowing off the mountain.  People's spirits have been in very good order today, feeling much stronger than they did yesterday, the altitude not hammering on us quite so hard as it did yesterday.

We're happy to be here, we've dug in, everybody jumped down into the cook tent and was able to have a good meal and enjoy our camaraderie with each other, we're all tucked in now, it's midnight, getting ready to saw some logs.  Being  close to the west face as we are it's going to be a late rise in the morning, the sun doesn't actually hit here until about 11 or almost 12:00 in the morning/afternoon. So join us tomorrow after a nice crack of noon start and we'll keep you up to date with all that transpires down south, ciao for now, we're thinking of you, cheers.

January 10, 2004. Camp I.  Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hi this is Forrest McCarthy calling in for Team Invinsonables.  We just had a great move up to Camp I today, about 3,000 feet in elevation gain from Base Camp.  A little bit of soupy, foggy weather today, once again not a lot of great views out there, but it kind kept the sun from beating down on us which made for good conditions for moving up. We've got a great camp here established at Camp I, everybody is feeling super-strong, felt really good today.  Worked together great and we're getting the team's tents set up. Looking forward to doing a carry up to our High Camp tomorrow depending on weather and if everybody still feels good tomorrow morning. 

Other than that I think that everybody is just real excited here, being in Antarctica, being on Mount Vinson, we'll try to get some photos out tonight, we had a long day yesterday so we didn't have time to get them out while we got back, but we'll try to get some pictures and have those up here for you tonight, other than that this is Team Invinsonables signing out, bye.

January 9, 2004. Base Camp. Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and family, loved ones everywhere, this is Vern Tejas with Blue Ice, the team that is heading up the Vinson Massif.  Today we made a carry from Vinson Base Camp up a couple thousand feet to what's going to be established as Camp I.  We carried food and fuel and put 'em on our sleds and slogged along. The early part of the day was just fine, the sun was out, but as we got higher we actually worked our way up into a cloud and it became quite white-out, foggy conditions.  After six hours of uphill grinding we were able to make our depot at Camp I, which is at the base of the Vinson Massif Western Wall, and it puts us in a good position for staying out of the wind, yet acclimatizing, so our big plan tonight is, rest and recuperate, and then early in the morning carry our camp up there as well, so soon we should be moving to Camp I.

But today we actually got to see the development of more of the character of the group. Fascinating bunch of people.  Everyone of them seems to be an alpha in whatever they do.  People who have big dreams and big plans and are able to pull them off.  This is just another one of the dreams that all this team has, is to climb this mountain. So all that is bubbling to the surface, making it quite interesting and entertaining, great sense of humor, throughout the group, even doing hard work, such as pulling a sled up hill, we still had many good laughs during the breaks and that's what it's all about isn't it?  So thank you very much for joining us for this update, we'll be doing it again tomorrow so please tune back in and follow the progress of Team Blue Ice, Ciao for now 143.

January 9, 2004. Base Camp. Click for CallListen To Forrest's Call
Hi this is Forrest McCarthy with the Team Invinsonables.  We're at Vinson Base Camp, we arrived here yesterday, the clouds parted, and we got in here. And set up our camp here at Base Camp where we are planning on spending two nights.  We didn't really waste any time because today we got up and already did a big carry up to Camp I, I think people are pretty pooped, there will be a lot of Ibuprofen taken tonight, And then we are going to go ahead and move up to Camp I tomorrow, and we'll try to get some photos out here for you guys before we take off.  Nothing else for the moment, this is Team Invinsonables signing off, bye.

January 8, 2004. Base Camp.  Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and family this is Vern Tejas reporting from the base of Mount Vinson. We had a wonderful turn of weather, the group that was waiting in Punta Arenas has now come to the ice and a remarkable landing, they landed right as the clouds came in, they were able to get off-loaded and then spent the night at Union Glacier and since then we've subdivided into different teams, we've got the Ice Tigers (Invinsonables) and Team Blue Ice which is my team, and also a Japanese Team is enjoying the wonderful wonderful white world of Antarctica as well.

It cleared up earlier this morning and after twiddling our thumbs the fog lifted and we were able to shoot everybody over to Vinson Base Camp. All are well and fine at Vinson Base Camp and are acclimatizing to the new altitude of 8,143 feet above sea level and enjoying a crisp and sunny day, it's almost too hot to even go outside of the tents the sun is almost severe. But everybody is very happy to be here and now the work begins.  Team Blue Ice, is composed of Kevin, Tony, Jeff, Jeanne, Holt, Hiroshi, John, Ken and Britton, and they're all Everest aspirants, so we're going to be focusing our our teamwork and also on some of the challenges that we might experience at high altitude. It looks like a very fit team, a very experienced team, and I am just pleased as punch to be here with them.  So stay tuned for the future adventures of Blue Ice. Team Blue Ice is going to be heading out tomorrow with our first carry up to Camp I.  So stay tuned and ciao for now, this is Blue Ice signing off.  I'd also like to mention that Team Blue Ice is under the experienced leadership of Eric Larson and myself, Vern Tejas and we're looking forward to having a great experience here in the land of the midnight sun, ciao for now.

January 8, 2004. Union Glacier, Antarctica.
Click for Call
Listen To Forrest's Call
Hey everybody out there in cyber world, this is Forrest McCarthy calling in from Union Glacier.  We had a little clearing in the weather yesterday and we were able to just get in here with the Illuyshin aircraft.  We got here just in time.  Right after we landed the fog moved back in, but we are all here in Antarctica.  Everybody's pretty excited to be here. We spent the night here at Union Glacier, we woke up to some morning fog but that is now dissipated too.  So we're all getting ready now to load up in our twin otters and get all our groups over to Base Camp for Mount Vinson. 

We have one group that will be climbing with Lakpa Sherpa and Forrest McCarthy and is named the 'Invinsonables' (Formerly the Ice Tigers) so we will be calling in as the Invinsonables and in that group we have: Fred, Harry, Dianette, Ursula, Rob,  Zedi, Ward, Randall, and Roy.  We're a little bit scrambling to get loaded up into the Twin Otters, we wanted to make sure everyone knew that we were doing really well and we're excited to be here in Antarctica and headed over to Vinson Base Camp.  For the next 24 hours we'll give you a little bit more update on the Invinsonables and I think we might have some messages for home too.  So that's all for now from the Invinsonables, ciao.

(Editor's note:  All three teams flew to Vinson Base Camp today and will post dispatches periodically.  The team led by Vern & Eric consists of: Kevin, Holt, Ken, Britton, Jeanne, Jeff, John, Tony, and Haruhisa.  The team led by Andy and Kenji consists of: Hiroshi, Shinichiro, Shoko, Kazuo, Toshiko, and Akiko).

January 7, 2004. Punta Arenas, Chile.  Team II.
Hello everybody, this is Eric Larson e-mailing from Punta Arenas still. We are still waiting for the our weather window to fly onto the Antarctic continent and Union Glacier. Our Last update was a NO GO at 9:30 this morning. The weather report was 3 inches of snow on the landing strip, cloud cover and light winds. Antarctic Logistics & Expedition (ALE), our flight company wants to wait for the clouds to burn off before we launch. The weather in Punta Arenas is a typical spring day for this latitude, cool, partly cloudy with some rain. Unfortunately this weather doesn't give us a idea what is happening at Union Glacier. Everybody is doing well and taking this time to sightsee, relax, and meet the other team members.

There are 27 members patiently waiting to be put in the three expeditions and start climbing. Andy Tyson will be working with the Japanese team and their guide, Kenji. Forrest McCarthy with Lakpa Rita Sherpa will be guiding another team, and Vern Tejas and myself will be on the third team. Vern, Andy and Lhakpa are down at Union Glacier now waiting for the plane to land and start another climb. That is it for now, we will keep you informed of what is going on. Until then Buenas Tardes, Eric Larson signing off.

January 6, 2004. Union Glacier, Antarctica.  Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello cybernauts this is Vern Tejas with the Chinese Good Day Expedition on Mount Vinson.  Guess what, it finally cleared off and we left Vinson Base Camp yesterday, in the blue skies flew into Union Glacier, which is actually further away, further south than where we were, but it is one step closer to civilization. 

We've been dethroned by a big bank of clouds and high winds and now we're just waiting for our last days of our extrication from the last continent and hopefully back to civilization.  In the mean time, we're playing cards, making lots of music and flying kites.  This happens to be a kiter's paradise out here.  Everything's flat and covered with snow and ice and lots of wind.  Particularly if you have a sail or a kite, you put on some skis and you can go really fast and really far and are we having a blast.  So stay tuned for further adventures and know that we are just waiting it out and hopefully we'll be home soon, love you all, ciao for now.

January 5, 2004. Punta Arenas, Chile.  Team II.
The Second Wave.  Hurry up and wait. That is the old saying for flying in Antarctica. Twenty seven Alpine Ascents climbers are all packed and ready to go. It was a bit hectic yesterday with several missing bags lost flying here. Along with one guide who was stormed in at Jackson Hole and arrived a day late. However everyone and their gear is now here. We have been enjoying morning runs, big steaks, good wine, and strong espresso while we wait for the good weather to fly into Union Glacier. We are currently on call and could depart with as little as two hour of notice.

We will be flying to Union Glacier, the Antarctic staging area for Vinson climbs, on a Russian Illuyshin Aircraft. The Illuyshin is a heavy duty Russian Military cargo jet. It is comparable to a US C141. Union Glacier has a natural runway of blue glacial ice. The natural runway at Union Glacier is blue glacier ice that has been swept clean of snow by the strong Antarctic Winds. Unfortunately these same winds that clean the glacier of snow allowing large wheeled cargo plains to land also creates hazardous flying conditions. Following satellite data and weather reports from Union Glacier, the decision to fly from Punta Arenas is dependant on good weather in Union Glacier. So we are currently waiting for favorable weather at Union Glacier for our departure. So for now the Vinson second wave is packed and ready to go.

January 1, 2004. Base Camp.  Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello there cybernauts this is the Alpine Ascents Chinese Good Days Vinson Expedition wishing you a happy new year!  May this year be better than last and may you go into it with a smile on your face and wings on your feet.  I've just been presented with a Chinese good-luck knot, which I am wearing around my neck, and I'm very thankful to have it, it's a beautiful piece of work, looks like a brocade, and very wonderful in red and lightens up my year and I hope that yours is also as well-endowed.  I can only wish that 143 wonderful things happen to you in the next coming year. So from all of us down here in the fog praying for sunshine, to all of you friends family and loves back home, Happy New Year! Ciao for now.

December 31, 2003. Base Camp.
Hello this is Vern Tejas with the Chinese Good Day Expedition down here at the bottom of the world, Mt. Vinson, and having successfully completed the summit, we've come down to Base Camp and were in a whiteout situation where everything looks grey, you can't tell the sky from the snow and mountains from clouds so we're passing time here in Base Camp hoping that soon we'll fly to the airport out at Union Glacier.

So what did we do today?  We organized a work party and dug out the staff tent that has been left in position for the past couple of years here.  It no really a 'tent' it's actually a Quonset-type structure, known as a Weather Port or a Weather Haven, It's about 20 feet long and about 10-feet wide, we had to dig 5 or 7 feet of snow down to bedrock it seems, finally pried it loose and as a team we were able to lift it up and to re-place it on a new platform and that has become our 'party tent.'  We had all sorts of wonderful dinner there this evening, telling jokes in three different languages and after a while the wine began to flow. And of course what do you do when you get slightly inebriated, you play stupid bar tricks, and that's what we've been up to for the last hour or so.  Everybody is pretty tuckered out from kicking the ground, doing the one legged squat, so it's been pretty impressive, this team is definitely gymnastic in nature, we were very impressed with what they could do.  However Andy being the rock climber that he is has shown them who their match is. Fortunately it has all worked out happy as a clam.  So stay tuned till we see you next time, ciao for now.

December 30, 2003. Base Camp.
Hello friends and family and loved ones, here we are, Base Camp, Mt. Vinson.  We got tired of hanging out and waiting for the wind to die at High Camp and the clouds to blow away, so we decided we were going to come down to calmer, collected rest sites and ride out the lull.  We're currently in a white on white fog at Vinson Base, and we'll be here for a few more days, while we're waiting for the weather to clear up and probably spend our New Year's here. 

Everybody on the team is doing quite well, and all are happy to be down here in the thicker oxygen at 7,143 feet above sea level. We'll organize, sleep in, eat well and have a good time.  It's still quite balmy down here, almost like summer time. So that's the big news from the bottom of the world hope all are doing well, and we will ring in the new year at the bottom of the world.  Stay tuned ciao for now.

December 28, 2003. High Camp.   Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hey cybercasters this is Vern Tejas with Alpine Ascents' Good Day Expedition.  We're at High Camp, it's a rest day, and we're going to keep it short.  We've just been lounging around eating French toast most all day long, telling jokes in two different languages, maybe three and generally just getting our wits back about us.  We're hoping the weather improves and we'll get a chance at maybe doing another peak, so stay tuned, ciao for now.

December 27, 2003. High Camp.   Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello friends and family, this is the Alpine Ascents Chinese Good Day Expedition calling in from high on the flanks of Mount Vinson.  Well today started off with lenticulars over the tops of the mountains and finished off with rather nasty inclement weather, a blow set in with the clouds and in between those two, we sandwiched a climb.  Actually we got the entire team up to the top of Mount Vinson in fairly, reasonably good weather, half the day I think I was down just in long johns. So it was quite the beautiful day and one that we wished you could have joined us.

The team took sponsorship photos at the top, and it was amazing how many sponsors this Chinese team has, it seemed like they kept pulling out banner after banner and then they took rocks from the top I think we've got a collection that most geologists would be proud to have.  So the mountain is a little bit lower but not to worry.

We're all safe back in our high camp having just had a wonderful meal of ramen soup and we're anticipating we'll have the chocolate pudding for breakfast because everybody was so tired they went to bed early.  That's it from Vinson High Camp, and we look forward to seeing you soon for further adventures, ciao for now.

December 26, 2003. High Camp.   Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello cybernauts this is Vern Tejas with Alpine Ascents along with Andy Tyson and Lakpa Rita Sherpa and the Chinese Good Days Vinson Expedition.  We're in high camp right now, at approximately 4000m above sea level, and it's frigid, I'm in my sleeping bag doing this cybercast.  The sun is just disappearing behind the Massif itself and we're anticipating that it's going to plunge down to 10 below , or make that 21 degrees below 0 Celsius.  It's going to be bitter tonight.  But we're hoping that clears up the sky and we have a bright sunny day tomorrow, in which we can go to the summit.  So keep your fingers crossed and keep us in your prayers, we're going to give it a shot tomorrow if everybody's feeling good and the weather cooperates. That's pretty much it from this side of the world, ciao for now.

December 25, 2003. Camp I.   Click for CallListen To Vern's Call
Hello cybernauts this is Vern Tejas reporting for the Chinese Good Days Expedition down here in Antarctica, high on the sides of Mount Vinson.  Yes indeed, this Christmas Day we are climbing our way along the Vinson trail, talking to cold through the pocket's fold, stabbed like a driven nail. If your eyes were closed, the lashes they froze until sometimes you could not see.  Twasn't much fun but the only one to whimper was me. Much apologies to Robert Service there. 

When we got up this morning it was 21 below Celsius, and finally at the crack of noon when the sun came around the ridge, we got up and at it, had a beautiful breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  Met the Christmas day head on with a Santa Claus hat and good spirits all the way around.  Hit the trail at about 3 in the afternoon, moved food and fuel up to High Camp at 13,500 feet, that's about 3700m above sea level.  Seems like we must have put in about 143 wands on the way.  Team seems to be gelling well, very cohesive considering the challenges of communication.  But we hope to get up to high camp tomorrow, and that will somewhat dependent on the weather conditions and group health.  So stand by and stay tuned, we'll see you soon.

December 24, 2003. Camp I.
Ho Ho Ho Ho !

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the tent, the climbers were sleeping for they were quite spent. Their bellies were so full they felt they would pop, filled to the brim with Andy's one pot glop. We are all in fine spirits, happy with our progress up to Camp 1. The team is really efficient so we were able to setup the tents and build a kitchen all within a hour. Then we effectively polished off dinner and are now downing our Christmas cake. Clouds are rolling in yet it is still rather warm at our new elevation of 3143m (10,279ft.).

This winter wonderland surrounding us has turned our thoughts to our friends and loved ones. We wish all the best to you for the holidays and wish you could be here. This is surely what Santa's back yard must look like....glaciers tumbling down all around, snow everywhere. It just looks like what Christmas should look like. So with dreams of sugarplum summits were of to bed, hoping that old Kris Kringle thinks we've been good little climbers.

Merry Christmas to all from the "Chinese Good Days Vinson Expedition. And to all a goodnight.

Vern Tejas

December 23, 2003. Mount Vinson Base Camp.
Hello Cybernauts,

Vern Tejas here with the "Good Days" Expedition, and what a good day it was. After a hearty meal of French toast we loaded our packs and sleds with over a weeks worth of supplies and hit the trail. Have you ever had a bluebird sky overhead and excellent snow under your feet and fabulous mountains all around? Then you can appreciate what it was like today. Not a breath of wind to chill us we stripped down to our long johns.  As we ascended the Branscomb glacier, Mt. Shinn and Mt. Epperly (3rd and 4th highest) came into dramatic view. We soon developed a steady rhythmic pace from which we would rest from for a few moments every hour. We would drink a bit of juice and munch some lunch while taking the spectacular scenery in. This restaurant's got atmosphere. In six hours we made it to Camp 1, a protected site at the base of the Massif. Here we deposited or gear and returned to our comfy base camp. Andy and Lakpa whoop a big steaming pot of Chinese noodles. Fun was had by all. And we are so bushed I'm betting we will all be in the sack very soon.

Sweet dreams,
Vern
143

December 22, 2003. Mount Vinson Base Camp.
Wowie zowie! We are so very lucky. Things went exactly as planned and that's the first time that has happened in my eight trips to Antarctica. The 2003 Chinese Good Days Vinson Expedition was slated to depart for the "Ice" on the 21st and that's exactly what happened. At 5:00pm we went from hot standby to a full on "GO" and within two hours we changed into our glacier gear, loaded the bus, drove to the airport, passed security, boarded our plane and were wheels up. All of us were striving for maximum efficiency so we wouldn't loose our window of good weather. It paid off when we touched down in Union Glacier at 3:00am this morning.

The skies were clear and the wind was abnormally calm, so after a 3 hour catnap we all loaded onto a Twin Otter and were dropped off at the base of the spectacular Vinson Massif. The Otters are the workhorse plane of choice for polar exploration. They are equipped with special skis to enable them to land on snow and ice. Everything happened so rapidly that we decided to celebrate by eating and sleeping all afternoon.

Resting, works well into our acclimatization plan for we want to stay at our new elevation of 2143m for a couple nights. This will hopefully allow our bodies time to adapt to the lower levels of oxygen found at this altitude. We are now in the midst of eating our dinner, tuna parmesan casserole. Chinese style of course. Fortunately for Andy everyone is very hungry and full of compliments for the chef. Our weather remains excellent and we a extremely happy to be here. Join the fun tomorrow as we put all this stuff on our backs and the true meaning of this climb sinks in.

Warm regards,
Vern Tejas

December 20, 2003.  Punta Arenas, Chile.
Hello friends and family, Vern Tejas reporting from the tip of South America. Our team, The 2003 Chinese Good Days Vinson Expedition, is in position to launch from the port city of Punta Arenas, Chile, to the land of ice and snow. Our mission is to attempt a climb of the Vinson Massif. This stark uplift of glaciated sedimentary rock stands at 16,002 above the ice covered ocean below. It is a cold, remote and unforgiving place, fortunately we are an experienced team. Several members have summited Mt. Everest and will share that with the rest.

This has all the makings of a great adventure. This dream team is comprised of some of China´s most accomplished and interesting mountaineers. Lu Zhangling works in high finance by day and climbs whenever he can, most recently completing Everest. Chen Junchi is a computer engineer for a fast growing telecom company and is well on his way climbing the Seven Summits. Yu Xiang is a well regarded mountain photographer and will be shooting video on throughout this climb. Wang Shi's business is residential real estate and he is an aspiring Seven Summiter. Liu Jian, Outdoor reporter, was successful on Everest this last Spring. Ci Luo, originally from Tibet, works for the Chinese Mountaineering Association, has scaled many 8000m peaks. And my good friend Wang Yeng Fong is the first Chinese to do the Seven Summits. We climbed Vinson together in '88.

Rounding out this highly qualified team is Andy Tyson, an author and international mountain instructor. Lakpa Rita Sherpa brings a wealth of Himalayan experience and six Everest summits on this expedition. My many years of leading Vinson ascents should also be important to having a safe and successful climb. We are having our food and equipment all prepared and packed onboard our aircraft an IL76. This is a Russian made Illuyshin and it is superbly adapted to the demands of landing off runway on Antarctic ice.

Our departure was delayed when a helicopter crash emergency necessitated the use off our plane to air evacuate the pilots of the chopper. They were injured but are now in good hands back civilization. We pray a speedy recovery. Our pilots are now fully rested and as soon as we get the thumbs up from the weatherman in Union Glacier, our next waypoint, we will be on our way.  We will be keeping in touch with you throughout the expedition, so please bookmark us for handy reference. And keep your fingers crossed for flyable weather. Warm wishes to all, Vern Tejas

 Return to Top of Page