Preparing to summit Mt. Vinson, Antarctica: Packing my gear.
As you read this, I am on my way to Antarctica in an attempt to climb Mt. Vinson, the tallest mountain in Antarctica and therefore one of the seven summits. The summits include the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. This, providing that I make it to the top, will be my final summit of the seven already having successfully climbed Aconcagua in South America (6962m), Carsterse Pyramid in Oceania (4884m), Elbrus in Europe (5642m), Kilimanjaro in Africa (5895m), Denali in North America (6194m) and Mt. Everest in Asia (8850m).
Since I just finished madly packing, I thought I would share with you what one takes on an Antarctic expedition. Obviously it will be cold and remote, so I need warm clothing that will keep me safe. Also, since we will be climbing up and then skiing the 160km back to Union Glacier, I will be taking more than usual on this trip. Temperatures will range from -10C on a warm day to -30C if a storm blows in. We will have 24 hour daylight which, as I learned on Denali, can be a blessing and a curse.
I will have my Atomic backcountry skis which accompanied my up Mount Logan (Canada’s highest peak) and on many a back country trip in the Rockies. My Millet 8000m boots kept me warm on Everest and should be perfect in Antarctica as well. I will take a pair of down booties for around camp as well as 4 pair of heavy wool socks and 4 pair of light liner socks. We will also be using vapour barriers in our boots to keep the perspiration from our feet from getting into our boots. I will have lightweight and expedition-weight long underwear bottoms as well as Sherpa softshell pants, my Gore-tex pants and insulated outer pants.
I will have two mid-weight Sherpa tops, one expedition-weight Sherpa expedition top, my trusty vest that has been on every trip with me since 2000, my Sherpa down sweater, my Sherpa outer shell jacket, and my big expedition parka. I am taking two fleece hats as well as a sun hat, balaclava, face mask, goggles, and glacier glasses. For my hands I have two pair of liner gloves, a pair of soft shell gloves, my favourite climbing gloves and a pair of down mitts in case it gets really cold.
I will have my harness, my ice axe, crampons, various pieces of climbing gear, my Ostrom Pack that went up Everest with me, my Nikon D90 camera, snack food, two insulated water bottles, a thermos, cup, bowl and spoon, journal, MP3 player, and a book. For sleeping I will have my -40 sleeping bag, a Therm-a-rest, and a foam pad. There will be three of us packed into one tent so I don’t think I will get cold while sleeping.
We will buy some fresh food in Punta Arenas, but mostly we will survive on freeze dried meals. I will take plenty of my Adult Essentials vitamins www.adultgummies.com with me to provide what the packaged food does not.
As a group we will also have our tent, all our food, sleds to pull our gear, ropes, and a satellite phone to keep in touch with the outside world. We have a fixed amount of weight that we can take on the plane to Antarctica so we will go with only the essentials.
We left Nov 12 and flew to Punta Arenas where we will spend a few days prepping and buying some food. Our flight provider requires we be in town two days before our scheduled flight on November 16th or they will bump us off the flight. They don’t fool around down there. Once in Antarctica we will take a second flight to the Mountain where we will spend 10-12 days climbing. We will then ski the 160km back to the Union Glacier ice runway for our flight to Punta Arenas. If all goes as planned I should be back in Canada on December 11th.
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