Lloyd Charton called in from Antarctica! He and Tom arrived yesterday and are at Vinson Base Camp.
Unfortunately, the satellite phone call was pretty garbled and then cut off, so it’s a bit hard to understand. It sounds like they are about to hike up the Branscomb Glacier to the first of two camps that they will use on their route, known in the unimaginative parlance of climbers as “Low Camp.”
They loaded up in an Ilushyn Russian cargo jet in Punta Arenas, Chile, a process that involved passing through Chilean customs before boarding the plane. The flight to the Union Glacier blue ice runway took about 4.5 hours, much of it flying over water and then sea ice. Finally, they landed on the ice, taxiing for well over a mile, as the plane cannot brake as it would on an asphalt runway.
They then did some quick organization of their kit and boarded a second plane, this one a much smaller prop-plane on skis for the short 25 minute flight to Vinson Base Camp.
The hike to Low Camp will take about 5-6 hours and it ascends the relatively mellow Branscomb Glacier. From the infectious energy in Lloyd’s voice, they are having a great time and are excited to start up the route!