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Alpenglow’s First Antarctica Expedition!

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition
Antarctica 1.jpeg

Jan. 12, 2015 – Alpenglow is in Antarctica for the first time! Founder and guide, Adrian Ballinger, is leading a custom expedition on Vinson Massif, the tallest mountain in Antarctica at (16, 050 feet). 

Adrian and Gay, Alpenglow climber, reached Antarctica on Friday after spending time in Punta Arenas at the tip of South America while they waited for right weather to travel to Antarctica. After flying to the polar continent on a Russian cargo plain that’s outfitted to land on an ice runway, Adrian and Gay settled in to Vinson Base Camp. They spent two nights there getting used to Antarctic life and reviewing glacier skills.

The next day, they worked on crevasse rescue training, glacier travel techniques, and sled hauling – with pizza for lunch! Good job to our team for living Antarctic life with all the comforts of home! After lunch, they roped up and focused on regulating temperature and being efficient on the ice. A direct quote from Adrian: “Gay and I are feeling strong, and enjoying this place immensely!”

On Sunday, they made it to Camp 1 (low camp), along with Mark Sedon and his climber, who are going up Vinson Massif alongside Adrian and Gay. They are still doing great, drinking lots of coffee, and having fun in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Because of its remote nature, Antarctica does not have a great internet connection, and as a result, Adrian will be sending photos that are small in size. So excuse us for having lower resolution photos than normal or not having quite as many as we usually post. Alpenglow will be adding the high-resolution versions to blogs and to social media as soon as Adrian returns to South America. Stay tuned for more updates as Alpenglow continues on our first expedition in Antarctica!

Gay hard at work on the fixed lines to High Camp on Vinson Massif

Jan. 13, 2015 – Gay is hard at work here, on fixed lines up to High Camp. The mountain was making them work hard  – lots of clouds, low visibility, cold temperatures, and steep terrain. They did a carry and will try to move up the next day. They are expecting it to take them 7-8 hours to get to camp. Gay and Adrian are in agreement: Antarctica is stunning.

Beautiful landscape of Antarctica. Photo taken by Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions

Jan. 14, 2015 – Rest day at High Camp. There are high winds and it’s cloudy, but the team is still enjoying Antarctica’s pristine condition. Guide Adrian Ballinger sent us his thoughts on the beauty and cleanliness of the continent: “In the white room today on Vinson. Despite the lack of views I am beyond impressed with this mountain. After battling trash, human waste, and sketchy operators on many of the world’s iconic peaks, it is amazing to be on a completely pristine peak, despite its popularity. Operators and governments around the globe can learn from the model here in Antarctica. The world’s most popular peaks need strict management and clear expectations of both operators and individual climbers.”

Mark Sedon's photo of climbers en route to the summit on Vinson Massif in Antarctica

January 16, 2015 – Adrian and Gay reached the summit of Vinson Massif yesterday! They had perfect weather and seized the opportunity to go for it. It took 11 hours to go up from High Camp (15 hours roundtrip), so they had a big day and returned to High Camp to spend the night. Today they are in Base Camp waiting for their flight back to South America. Mark Sedon took the image above, which shows climbers en route to the summit of Vinson. We are excited to see Adrian and Gay’s incredible photos and we will be posting them as soon as they have the internet bandwidth to send them.

January 17, 2015 – Adrian and Gay are at Base Camp. They’re flying to Union Glacier today where they’ll wait for a few days to catch their flight to Punta Arenas (unless their flight can get pushed up). They put in a strong effot and we’re so proud of their Vinson Massif summit success!

Adrian Ballinger and Alpenglow climber Gay on the summit of Vinson Massif in Antarctica

“Vinson Summit! It was a perfect Antarctic day with an epic effort from Gay to stand on top – 11 hours of climbing, -32 degrees, and the summit all to ourselves. We are back down and flew out to Union Glacier Camp today. Gay’s off to the South Pole tomorrow. Then it’s time for Aconcagua! More pics and stories from a perfect week on #Vinson once we get to non-satellite wifi.” – Adrian Ballinger in Union Glacier, Antarctica

Alpenglow cooking at Low Cap on Vinson Massif in Antarctica

January 17, 2015 – After a 15 hour summit push and a descent with big packs and heavy sleds, a midway cook-up at Low Camp was definitely in order. The team powered up on scrambled eggs and bacon, coffee from Coffeebar, Truckee, CA, and cranked dance music thanks to Goal Zero and Beats Music.

Photo of Mount Vinson Massif, by Adrian Ballinger on a Alpenglow Expeditions custom climbing expedition

January 19, 2015 – Adrian sent us this beautiful photo during the first few days of climbing on Vinson. He also included his thoughts when he took it:

“In the white room today on Vinson. Despite the lack of views I am beyond impressed with this mountain. After battling trash, human waste, and sketchy operators on many of the world’s iconic peaks, it is amazing to be on a completely pristine peak, despite its popularity. Operators and governments around the globe can learn from the model here in Antarctica. The world’s most popular peaks need strict management and clear expectations of both operators and individual climbers.” – Adrian Ballinger

Alpenglow Expeditions' summit photo from Vinson Massif in Antarctica

January 21, 2015 – Adrian and Gay finally got a weather window to fly off the ice and are leaving Union Glacier. They are expected to arrive in Punta Arenas tonight. Stay tuned for updates on the team’s travels. Above, is a summit photo from Vinson Massif taken by Adrian Ballinger. A pristine view from the summit of the tallest point in Antarctica. I strive to guide in at least one completely new location each year. This one, Vinson, exceeded my expectations in every way. I feel privileged to have an opportunity to come to this remote continent, and even more so to climb its tallest peak” says Adrian.