December 23 AM Update – Standing-by and Ready to Go

This is Wally Berg from the Berg Adventures office at 8:00 AM on December 23rd.   I spoke early this morning with Punta Arenas and this is the update on Peter, Bud and Dave’s chances of leaving Antarctica today.

The Ilyushin jet stands ready on the runway at Punta ArenasThe Ilyushin is sitting fueled, loaded and ready to go on the runway at the airport in Punta Arenas .  Today’s scheduled fuel flight Patriot Hills is still intended to be our team’s return to a Christmas in North America, but the decision has been made for the flight not to leave Chile early this morning.

The winds across the Blue Ice Runway are hovering right at or above the tolerance levels for a safe landing.  They are steady at 15-17 nautical MPH, which may not sound like extremely high winds, but remember that this huge jet will be landing on pure blue ice.  Safety dictates that the same crosswinds which create the ice runway, which is a natural feature at the edge of the Patriot Hills mountains, be down when the plane lands and as it taxis to a stop over a distance of several kilometers on the ice.  Years and years of safe landings here have proven that the cautious approach is best and that is the approach that will be taken with this flight.

At 4:00 PM local time today weather data from satellite images and wind speeds reported from three different stations located 120 nautical miles from Patriot will be combined with Jacko’s direct observations from Patriot Hills.  The Captain and crew will decide at that time whether to fly.  That is about 4 hours from now.  While the Ilyushin sits ready to go in Chile , and we standby for news in Alberta , Bud, Dave and Peter are no doubt thinking fondly of home.  We are wishing them good luck for a quick return home after their successful Vinson climb.