An uphill battle in Antarctica

Posted: Jan 06, 2006 04:41 pm EST

( A Russian ace climber became the first Vinson summiteer this morning (check sep story), Rune kited another 150 km on his record traverse, but for the unsupported Venezuelans, every inch of the 10 degrees to the South Pole are to be fought for. Yesterday, they took off their skis and headed up to the 87º on foot, managing 20 km after a hard day.

South Pole teams

Proyecto Cumbre: The big push before the 87º

Today we had a slightly colder day, and some wind from the Southeast and clear skies, reports the Proyecto Cumbre team.

From the minute we started out, it was all uphill. Enormous sastrugi crossed our path diagonally, making any progress an exhausting ordeal. Some were as high as 1.5 meters."

At one point the Venezuelans reported that it got so bad, they could no longer use their skis, so they took them off and continued on foot. As the temperature began to drop, they paid close attention to keeping warm. We put on an extra layer after each stop, and then removed it once we warmed up again.

Today we managed to advance about 20.5 km, reaching 87º. We climbed 160 meters and now were in our tent enjoying our cheese and some canned food we were saving for this moment. Only 3º to go!

Vinson climbing teams

7 Summits-club: First Vinson climb in New Year, and the first new Sevensummiteer !

"In the morning the weather was pretty bad. Cold and windy," reports Alex Abramov from camp 2 on the slopes of Mount Vinson.

Some expeditions left their tents for a summit climb at between 11-12 am. Our expedition, all six of us, also left. As the wind picked up, one by one, the climbers decided to return. Our group ended up divided in two. Three opted to turn around and consider this an attempt just to acclimatize. But the Russian members of the expedition: Boris Sedusov, Vyacheslav Pashkov, and myself (Alexander Abramov) continued the ascent, reported Alex.

At 8:30 pm we stood at the top of Mount Vinson. Despite some incredibly strong and cold winds, conditions have been generally favorable, allowing us to become the first Vinson summiteers in 2006. That was great !

Alex and the team sent a special congratulations wish to Boris Sedusov who at 55 years of age, became the fifth person in Russia to fulfill the Seven Summits program according to the team.

While descending from a new route on the North face of Dhaulagiri in 1993, Boris got severe frost bite and lost six toes as a result. But that did not stop this 50+ year old from fulfilling his dream. Boris later returned to the Himalaya and climbed four 8000+ peaks, including Everest.

We all admire his courage and his climbing conditions!, the team said.

While the weather is still pretty bad, our partners Heber Orona, Pablo Kommer and Harry Kikstra plan to repeat an attempt. Good Luck !

Runes website
Spanish Trans-Antarctic expedition Larramendis site (Spanish/English)
Norwegian Hvitserks SP teams dispatches
Hvitserks expeditions (Norwegian)
Proyecto Cumbre SP expedition (Spanish/English)
Numis Polar Challenges website
Omega Foundation - Antarctica 2005
Borge Ouslands website
Slovak Trekland team
Arios Alone Across Alaska (Italian)
Airborne Ranger Club of Finland NP expedition (Finnish)
Alpine Ascents International
7Summits Club Vinson team
Adventure Consultants

"It's an uphill battle at times," reports Proyecto Cumbre from Antarctica. That's how it was for the Venezuelan team today as they approached the 87 degree. Live image sent over Contact 3.0 courtesy of Proyecto Cumbre (click to enlarge).
Just look at the size of these sastrugi! An image of Rune's sled dwarfed by the massive formations. But he was not the only one to come across these huge sastrugi - other teams reported some as high as 2 metres. Live image sent over Contact 3.0 courtesy of Rune (click to enlarge).

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