22nd January 2011 // Made it to Punta Arenas guys! What a wild night. Last night the ALE's Ilyushin plane landed in a total whiteout and took off in the same conditions, it was one of the wildest things I have ever seen. It nearly had to turn around and go back to Punta the conditions were so bad. Taking off was just amazing, totally wild. We left at 11pm last night and I arrived in Punta Arenas at 3am. It was the first time I have seen pure darkness for over a month after being in 24 hour sunlight, so to be honest I was a little disorientated! Feels very weird. I didn’t sleep that well I think I was almost too comfortable in a bed! Have had lots of things to get organised today repacking etc and sorting for next leg. It was a weird feeling leaving Union Glacier Base Camp. I had been there so long and met so many amazing people I was sad to leave in some ways. I am also now climbing with a different group on Aconcagua due to my delays so lots of things to get up to speed with. Glad to be in a warmer climate though, that’s pretty cool! Just about to get on flight to Santiago where I will be until Monday, then I’ll be on the bus to Mendoza in Argentina. Mount Vinson leg over, Aconcagua next!
21st January 2011 // Hi Guys. We had been told bad weather was coming in and it would be 3-5 days before a flight could come in, that was pretty catastrophic news to be honest! Luckily I have had some good news today. We’ve been told a weather window has appeared and there will be a flight taking me back to Punta tonight. Fingers crossed it all happens, it’s been a fly by the seats of our pants kind of day! I got the news when I was out climbing a mountain around camp today training. Had a great climb with two fantastic climbers on Mount Rossman and we climbed a new route today, which I was luckily enough to name. I named the route “Gratitude”. It was an awesome day. Hopefully the next time I will speak to you, it will be in Punta Arenas in Chile!
15th January 2011 // Hi Guys. Shocking news, weather perfect, blockade bypassed, but broken fuel line on ALE's Ilyushin plane! 3 days to order parts, no flight till next week now! You can’t make this up!! On the upside I had my first shower of the year! And for over a month! Even did some laundry! I used the ALE (Antarctic logistics and expeditions) staff facilities. A few teams have arrived back in camp tonight from pole journeys, celebrations here. I have been out climbing to stay strong. Eating like a king here at Union Glacier Base Camp. Hope my sleeping bag and other Aconcagua gear sent to me isn’t lost in Punta strike! Just really eager to get on with the next leg now and feel ready and raring to go.
15th January 2011 // Antarctic-logistics are trying to get everyone in to Punta through blockades to fly today. They managed to get fuel for flight. If all goes to plan, might fly out tonight! Waiting is tough! I want to move forward again. It’s good patience training there will be mega waiting on Everest! eating well and peeps cool here. Weather perfect, -15 degrees Celsius and no wind.
12th January 2011 // Hi Guys. Perfect flying weather but fuel strike in Punta Arenas is serious. Airport is shut! Still stuck in Union Glacier Base Camp. Heard someone tried to drive through roadblock and got killed..what are the chances. It’s minus 20 to 25 with windchill this morning, warming up as the wind has dropped now. Ran out of wipes so have given up on staying clean!
12th January 2011 // Apologies for the lack of contact for a few days, had sat phone issues! I caught a lift to Union Glacier Base Camp on the 9th in a supply plane. Was hoping to catch a flight on 10th back to Punta Arenas and then fly on to Santiago but poor weather and still no flight. Now there is a national strike in Punta over fuel - might stop me flying! Good job I am ahead on times! Getting twitchy now, it’s hard to be patient but I must be. Still love the guys here..I am treading the line between going soft and resting! Cold and windy here and I have run out of wet wipes today too! In good spirits, feeling confident and strong. Spilt pee bottle in my sleeping bag last night. It was too cold to get out, lucky it was a small spill! Had to also fix snapped lace in boots too.
9th January 2011 // I am back in Vinson base camp, long but good day. Hoping to catch a lift on a supply plane tonight back to union glacier base camp. I had to carry 4.5 days of poo in my pack! Looking forward to not pooing in a bag and living in +temperatures!
8th January 2011 // RICHARD SUMMITS MOUNT VINSON!!
"We have had great weather on summit day today. We have been moving really quickly, we got up to the summit in about 4 hours and 50 minutes which is really fast as the normal times this season have been 6 – 9 hours. We got up there and were rewarded with the most breathtaking views. We timed it to perfection. I do feel privileged to be on Vinson, you can look around 360 degrees and 90% of the scenery you see is untouched by human hand, it is absolutely amazing. From a challenge point of view, it’s fantastic to get the first mountain under my belt and hopefully we can build on confidence and momentum now going in to Aconcagua”.
7th January 2011 // Weather still good, moving well as a team, 5hr on from low camp, we are now at high camp and are at 3870m. It normally takes 6-8hours. Wind is picking up tomorrow so probably won’t attempt summit and will have acclimatisation day. Heavy pack today, 30ishkg bringing gear up so I am now very tired in bag but toasty. Amazing views today.
7th January 2011 // Hi Guys. Still at high camp. Didn’t climb today, ironically good conditions. Climbing tomorrow but conditions forecast not as good as today. Going to play it by ear, waiting game again but fingers crossed we will be summiting tomorrow or next few days. Feel good and strong.
6th January 2011 // Weather good. Climbing to high camp today. Tough day ahead, long fixed lines with rocky and blue ice sections.
5th January 2011 // Arrived at low camp at 5.50pm local time. Lots of chill time. We are at 2815m. Moved really fast today travelling 9km in 3h40min from Vinson base camp. Was mega hot climbing but cold now!
4th January 2011 // Hi Guys! Weather good, I flew in to Mount Vinson base camp today. I’ve been getting restless waiting, more patience required! Vinson base camp is tiny, only a handful of teams on the mountain. The forecast is good for the next four days. I’m climbing tomorrow with a strong team of four, two Dutch, one Aussie and our lead is an American guy called Joey. It’s -5 degrees Celsius at Vinson base camp and a minimum of -25 on the summit. I’m feeling a little lethargic and apprehensive after waiting for 8 days but at the same time can’t wait to get going. The altitude of Vinson base camp is 2100m, low camp 2750m, high camp 3700m, summit 4892m. Tomorrow we are climbing to low camp. Leg 2 then, let’s crack on! Speak to you all soon, thanks again for all your messages of support.
2nd January 2011 // Back at Union Glacier base camp until the 4th at the moment. Everything is cool. I am sorting tomorrow for Mount Vinson, I just want to get on it!