December 11 - 13 Update from Punta Arenas

This is Wally Berg reporting from the Berg Adventures office in Alberta .  Our team is now in Punta Arenas , Chile , at the very tip of the South American continent.  We have been in close contact via e-mail and telephone since Dave, Peter and Bud arrived in Punta on the 9th of December. 

The briefing for our team’s flight to Antarctica was held at 10:00 AM on the 10th.  At that time I was relieved to learn that the Russian Ilyushin jet had made a round trip flight to the Patriot Hills Base on the 10th.  27 people who had been waiting in Punta Arenas since their scheduled departure on December 4th were very happy to be on their way.  Perhaps even happier were 47 people who were flown back from the ice on that same trip. 

These explorers and adventures, including some Vinson climbers, were no doubt very happy to return to a land where the sun sets and things grow.   Of course the successful completion of this flight to the Ice meant our team was cleared to go next, as soon as the crew got a proper amount of rest and conditions were suitable for another go at the flight down to the Blue Ice Runway at Patriot Hills.

These notes below will update you on the reports we have been getting from Dave, Bud and Peter.

Saturday December 11th.

3:00 PM Punta Arenas :  Bud got good enough sat phone coverage to report to his wife Teri in Columbus GA that they had taken the baggage and loaded it on the plane, but they were still on standby. 

Yesterday a round trip was done, 27 people, who had been waiting since Dec. 4th down to the ice and 47 people back.

Dave Hahn reported that Punta Arenas was full of celebrating Vinson climbers and other Polar travelers last night who had returned on yesterday's flight from the ice.  He said that most of them got out on their international flights returning home today, so the streets of Punta have gotten quiet again.  Punta Arenas on a weekend can be lovely and peaceful

Dave also reported to me that weather is good at Patriot Hills, but that the winds are a bit high, so we will be watching closely. Scheduled shortwave radio contact with the crew at Patriot Hills will provide the important information

He says that Peter and Bud appear upbeat and as relaxed as they can be in these hours of uncertainty.  They are sending e-mails and taking naps.  Not a bad way to pass time on a Saturday in Punta Arenas while waiting for the winds to die down far to the south in Antarctica .

Punta Arena

Sunday, December 12th

On Sunday's Punta Arenas Chile has to be one of the quietest places in the world.  Businesses are for the most part not opened.  People truly take the day off.  Dave, Peter and Bud were told early in the morning that they were on standby until 12:30 PM .  In the morning they went of a walk, which is always a pleasant thing to do in Punta so long as you are dressed for the wind that blows consistently at the tip of the continent along the Straits of Magellan.  Dave reported that they spotted two whales.

In the afternoon they were told to be standing by at the hotel for a call at 6:00 PM .  That evening they were “stood down” and told to take the night off.  The team shared a nice dinner together at the rooftop dining room of Bud and Peter’s hotel.

Monday, December 13th

From Dave in the morning:

Winds 15 knots gusting 27 down at Pat.Hills.  Next call is at noon .  Still lots of things to do... We may hang in the office by the radio this afternoon or visit one of the museums.  I’ll show the guys the gym if they want to work out, or we will take in another movie.

At about 12:45 PM Punta time from Bud:

Apparently the winds are shifting but still too high.  Normally, variable winds presage a diminishing of force especially in relation to frontal passage.

From Bud at around 4:00 PM

Was up at the office when the 4:00 came in.  11 gusting 16 and steady. Pressure falling.  We have gone to one hour stand by.  I will try to get an e-mail out if we head for the airport. 


Now here in Alberta , I am waiting for the phone call or e-mail about that trip to the airport.  There will be a 7:00 PM check and the winds seem to be trending in the right direction so the guys might still go tonight.  Remember that at those Southern Latitudes they will fly quickly into 24 hours of light, so they can leave at anytime the winds allow. 

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