Mount Vinson Expedition 2007
Antarctica is coldest, driest and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.
Some 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mi) in thickness and can reach up the 4.5 km (2.8 mi). The continent has approximately 90% of the world's ice (and thereby approximately 70% of the world's fresh water). If all of this ice were melted, sea levels would rise about 200 feet (60m).[
Antarctica is about 1.3 times larger than Europe (14 million km² / 5.4 million sq mi). It has no permanent residents, but approximately 4,000 people in summer to about 1,000 in winter are conducting scientific research.
Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. It is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 inches) per year, on average. Temperatures reach a minimum of between -80 °C and -90 °C (-112 °F and -130 °F) in the interior in winter and vary between -30 °C and +5 °C (-22 °F and 41 °F) in summer.
The lowest temperature on Earth of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) was measured at Vostok Station.
The strong Katabatic winds off the polar plateau often blow at storm force and can reach 300km/h (187 mph).
Mount Vinson (or Vinson Massif) is the highest mountain of Antarctica and reaches 4892m (16,049 ft). It is located in the Ellsworth Mountains Range, only 1,200km (750 mi) away from the South Pole. Temperatures in the Ellsworth Mountains average around -30 °C (-20 °F). The best months for expeditions are December through February.
The massif has been discovered in 1957 and the top reached for the first time in 1966. As of today around 1,000 climbers (only 17 French) have succeeded Mt. Vinson, much less than Mt. Everest.
Mt. Vinson is part of the 7 Summits.
Dec 12-15: Nice - Punta Arenas
Flight from France and expedition preparation at Punta Arenas (Patagonia, Chile).
Dec 16-18: stuck at Punta Arenas
Stuck at Punta Arenas, bad weather at Patriot Hills (Antarctica).
Dec 19: Punta Arenas - Patriot Hills
Flight from Punta Arenas to Patriot Hills (Antarctica) with a Russian cargo plane.
Patriot Hills is the Adventure Network International's base camp since 1987. Located at 1000m (3,280 ft) by 80º19' latitude South and 81º16' of longitude West, this camp is 3000km (1,875 mi) away from the closest city and only 1075km (670 mi) from the South Pole. It is the starting point of most Antarctica expeditions. We arrived at Patriot Hills around 17h.
Dec 20-22: stuck at Patriot Hills
Stuck at Patriot Hills in bad weather.
Dec 23: Patriot Hills - Vinson BC (2100m) - Half Camp (2500m)
4.5km, +400m, 3h.
Good weather, we finally could fly to Vinson BC. We took the 3rd of the 6 planes and took off at 17h. The flight was absolutely fantastic. The sky was clear except some clouds on the Vinson Massif itself. We landed at Vinson Base Camp (BC, 2100m) at 18h where we got a briefing from ALE staff. We sorted out the gear and food for the upper camp, loaded it on the sleds and buried everything else in a cache. At 21h we left BC in 2 rope teams of 3 and reached half camp 3h later in the clouds. By the time we pitched the tents, melted snow and ate it was 2h.
Dec 24: Half Camp (2500m) - Low Camp (2750m)
4.5km, +250m, 4h30.
We were in the clouds when we woke up with a temperature -20ºC. It improved as we walked up the Branscom glacier and finally got warm. Taking our time, we reached Low camp at 19h30. We pitched our 3 tents and built snow walls to protect them from the wind. Taking advantage of 24h of sunlight, we went to sleep late.
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