Hello everyone! This is Joe Butler, Vinson guide for Mountain Trip.
Our team is in Punta Arenas and enjoying the last bit of civilization before we head to the Ice and work our way to the top of Mount Vinson. We have a very international team, including Joe Cuervorst (Colorado), Sandra Leduc (Canada), Basia Gorska (Polish American), and Saeed Al Maamary (United Arab Emirates).
Punta Arenas is the southern most city in Chile, situated along the Strait of Magellan and is the starting point for Mount Vinson climbers and folks heading to the South Pole. Although Punta Arenas has many modern conveniences, it still has a remote feel, reminding you that you are near the bottom of the world! Over the past couple of days we have enjoyed burgers and beers at Lomito’s, my favorite local burger joint, and taken in the sights. Most notable are Cemetario Municipal de Punta Arenas with its impressive tombs honoring important pioneers and families from the area and the Memorial to Ferdinand Magellan in the Plaza Central. Here it is good luck to rub or kiss the toe of the statue of the native. (See team pictures) To round it all out we had an amazing dinner at La Marmita where they serve things like guanaco and Patagonian hare stew. Delicious!
Today we went to our safety briefing at Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), the company that provides flights and logistics for all Mount Vinson climbers. We then weighed our bags and ALE is currently loading them onto the Ilyushin. The Ilyushin is the Russian cargo jet we use to get from Punta Arenas to Antarctica. Now that we have checked our bags it really feels like we are starting our expedition!
Tomorrow we are scheduled to fly from Punta Arenas at 4:45am local time. We will don our expedition boots and synthetic clothing and head to the Punta Arenas airport and go through security and customs before we board the massive cargo jet waiting for us. Seven hours later, with a fuel stop in Ushuaia, Argentina, we will land on the blue ice airstrip at Union Glacier. Next we board a DeHavilland Twin Otter and fly to Vinson Base Camp. From here it is boots on the ground and human will power to bag the summit and return.
As a guide, I could not ask for a better group! Everyone became instant friends making group dynamics an easy process. I am very excited to be climbing with a group with so much experience in the high mountains and I am honored to lead these folks on such a remote and beautiful expedition! This is truly living life to the fullest!
We will call in updates and podcast daily and we will also be tracking our progress via the DeLorme inReach. There will be a link available on the Mountain Trip website to see where we are on a map and everyone will be able to watch us move in almost real time!
I want to thank everyone at home supporting these climbers as they challenge themselves on a trip of a lifetime! Your love and support allows these folks to focus on the objectives and return home safely and successful.
Thanks for following our trip and we will post again once we reach the Ice.