December 21 – Gus Pope reporting from Patriot Hills

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Gus Pope on Vinson summit day.This is Gus Pope calling you on the 21st of December from the Patriot Hills Base Camp. The sound you can here in the background is Will Cross cooking soup as we sit here next to the blue ice runway, waiting for the Ilyushin to come and take us off the ice.

We had an early morning flight from Vinson Base Camp, where we have been socked in for about 4 days. The logistics of getting us out were pretty interesting. The Twin Otter plane that is run by Univik Airlines based in Baffin Island, has been up on Alexander Island off the Antarctica Peninsula where there is a lot of people being stationed to support various ongoing expeditions in Antarctica.

We got the indication last night that it was possible that the Twin Otter was on it’s way back to Vinson to pick us up and then bring us to Patriot. We weren’t too sure of the timing of all of this and so we went to bed at about one in the morning. And then about two hours later, Borris the camp attendant of Vinson came banging on the tents, saying you’ve got forty minutes and the plane will be here. So it was a mad rush to pack everything up, drop our tents, get onto the plane and down here to Patriot Hills.

View from Twin-Otter on flight to Patriot HillsThe pick up was at about 4 a.m., and we were here by 5 a.m. after which we were very happy to crash on the floor of the tent. You’ve got to take your hats off to the pilots of these Twin Otters who have had a very busy couple of days all over the Antarctic Peninsula.

Captain Carl who’s the veteran pilot of our Twin Otter, had been out about 24 hours ago to the scene of a helicopter crash, and to make a landing in the middle of nowhere to pick up the survivors of that flight. Then he was off to Alexander Island, and then he was off to pick us up, and so these guys really earn their keep in what are really very difficult flying conditions.

We are hoping that the Ilyushin will come and pick us up within the next 24 hours so that we’ll all be home in time for Christmas, but at least we made the first leg which is from Vinson Base here to Patriot. And each step of the way our accommodation gets a little bit nicer. So this is Gus Pope for the Berg Adventures Vinson team signing off after a successful climb and hopefully be back with our families soon.

This BAI expedition
is sponsored by:

AlpineAire Foods

Panasonic Toughbooks