December 8, 2006 – Waiting for the Ilyushin

Listen to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

BAI tents at Vinson Base Camp

It’s the 8th of December and I’m calling you from a very windy Patriot Hills at 81 degrees south in Antarctica.  Larry, Wayne and I have been here for a little more than 24 hours now since we had the uplifting experience of being flown out via Twin Otter ski plane.  I knew coming in to Patriot Hills yesterday however that we weren’t going to go anywhere soon.  You could see as we landed it was quite windy.  Jaco met us soon after and informed us that the winds down at the blue ice runway about 1 kilometer from here were 31 miles/hour gusting to 42, far too high to bring in the Ilyushin.

We are having a pretty good stay here.  Jaco has big snow machines here so we got to put up a big wall as a wind break, then all the Vinson climbers put up their mountain tents.  We put up our 2 VE-25 North Face tents which are quite comfortable especially sheltered from the wind and pretty warm with the sun hitting the fabric.  And we hang out in a big group, communal, weather-haven cook tent.

It’s a real social scene.  Of course we would all like to get out of here but we've all got to remember we bargained for some days in Antarctica and there is always uncertainty with transport down here.

Jaco came around this morning and told us that the satellite images he is getting over at the communications tent on his computer show a big bank of clouds coming from the north and the west.  The winds right now are keeping those clouds away but unfortunately when those winds are gone the clouds are going to come.  I know there are people back in Punta Arenas waiting to get down on to the ice in the Ilyushin and they have been there for many days and we are waiting to get back.  So perhaps we can find a window to bring the Ilyushin in before the clouds get here.

Otherwise we will just be watching the weather.  We’ve got access to the radio here, we took out some polar exploration books.   Just a few minutes ago I saw Wayne reading a book and Larry scribbling away in his journal.  Larry told me he was writing the great Canadian novel and Wayne is reading about polar explorations.  So we have things to do with our time and life is not bad here in Antarctica.  So we’ll keep reporting day to day, cross your fingers that they will be able to bring the Ilyushin in some time, maybe even tonight.