The world is full of female explorers, but very few of them guide polar expeditions. To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked PolarExplorers’ guides Nancy Moundalexis and Annie Aggens a few questions about what it’s like to be a female polar explorer.
The teams are officially back to civilization and on their way back home! They made the flight from Punta Arenas yesterday morning. Everyone is happy to be back on solid ground after several days of delay at Union Glacier camp. We'd like to congratulate the whole team and give a special thanks to Madison Mountaineering for being our partner for this Vinson Climb. Listen below to Annie's last audio update from Antarctica! And as always, thanks for following along! Stay tuned for another exciting Last Degree expedition this April, but this time to the other end of the world, the Geographic North Pole!
For the last two days, our team has been hunkered down at Union Glacier, awaiting a break in the wind. On Saturday the team was able to make the short transfer by Twin Otter from the base of Vinson Massif, back to the much more luxurious Union Glacier Camp. They took advantage of the hot showers and celebrated Jeff's birthday with champagne toasts. Due to the stiff wind (about 35knots in camp) they've opted to remain indoors rather than explore the area surrounding Union Glacier. The camp meteorologist has forecasted a break in the wind tomorrow (Jan 23) which will hopefully allow the Ilyushin to fly in and get the team back to Punta Arenas tomorrow night. Stay tuned for details.
Jeff Glasbrenner with "birthday cake" in hand.
The team has been waiting for a weather window to fly out from Vinson Base Camp, but the weather has not cooperated yet. It snowed last night and the camp is still socked in by clouds, offering very little visibility. To entertain themselves, the team has been hanging out in their tents, eating a lot, and Annie devised a creative game to pass the time. The game was a version of Bozo Buckets, but instead of the buckets they used their empty expedition sleds, and in place of the balls (to throw in the buckets) they used their frozen-solid wag bags. (After so many days of activity, the boredom of a layover day brings out come pretty creative ways of passing the time.) Everyone is doing well and enjoying the opportunity to not have packs on their backs but are eager to start the journey home.
We'll keep you posted with the flight schedule as it develops. Listen to the audio update below for more details from the day.
Yesterday our team descended down the mountain and into the clouds, back to Vinson Base Camp. Low clouds had the camp socked in, but the good weather held long enough for an optimal summit day. They spent the evening relaxing and preparing to make the flight by Twin Otter back to Union Glacier Camp this morning. From there, if everything stays on schedule, the team will organize all of their equipment and board the Ilyushin for their final flight back to Punta Arenas and civilization. Listen to the last audio update from Mt. Vinson below and stay tuned for the last blog update after the team is safely back in Chile.
The team at Vinson Base Camp
After a 6.5 hour push out team, led by Garrett Madison (from Madison Mountaineering), Keith, and Annie, reached the top of Antarctica! It was a beautiful day to climb, with clear blue skies overhead, clouds shrouding the rest of Antarctica below, and relatively little wind The last half-hour was the highlight of the climb as they traversed the summit ridge. At the summit, the temperature was -35°C with a 5 knot wind (which made the felt temperature closer to -43°C). Not wanting to rest too long in the frigidity, the team spent 20 minutes on the summit, taking pictures and celebrating before making the 3-hour trek back to High Camp where they feasted on pork, chicken, corn, and chocolate. We are so proud of the team for accomplishing this feat with strength and style, and a special congratulations goes out to Maria Conceicao for being the first Portuguese woman to summit Vinson.
Listen to the audio updates below for details from the Summit as well as the end of the day back at high camp. While you might think they are having an easy time of it (from Tamas's audio update) be sure that they worked their butts off on this mountain, and are all truly world-class explorers... and they don't each have their own private bathroom. :)
Partial group selfie from the Summit of Vinson Massif