Title Page
  Preparations Arizona USA
  Preparations Punta Arenas, Chile
  Day 1: Antarctica!
  Day 2: First Taste of the Wind
  Day 3: Close Call
  Day 4: A Beautiful Day
  Day 5: The Wedge Design
  Day 6: Circle of Survivability
  Day 7: Mountains to our West
  Day 8: Skiing in a White out
  Day 9: Jenny Unleashed
  Day 10: Face Mask Freezing to the Nose
  Day 11: Howling Winds and Rough Terrain
  Day 12: Sledging away from the Maritime Influence
  Day 13: Rocking out
  Day 14: Frozen Face Mask
  Day 15: Coldest and Windiest Place on Earth
  Day 16: Skiing on Frozen Rubble
  Day 17: Tracks!
  Day 18: Slogging into Fierce Headwinds
  Day 19: First Sponge Bath
  Day 20: Playing in the Junkyard
  Day 21: Three Weeks, One-Third of the Distance
  Day 22: Playing in the Junkyard, Part 2
  Day 23: The otherworldly Glowing Blue Light
  Day 24: A Packman Game
  Day 25: The vision must be kept
  Day 26: Frozen Cameras
  Day 27: Low Margins of Safety in Strong Winds
  Day 28: Anomalies in the flat Antarctica myth
  Day 29: Thiels Mountains Visible in the Distance
  Day 30: The Half-Way Point
  Day 31: Mid-Journey Resupply
  Day 32: Sastrugi on top of Sastrugi
  Day 33: Skiing Alongside the Thiels
  Day 34: White Out and Mild-Mannered Sastrugi
  Day 35: Difficult Terrain
  Day 36: Cameras Frozen All Day
  Day 37: Alone in an Immense Wilderness
  Day 38: Warm weather and sleds are dragging hard
  Day 39: Climbing to the Polar Plateau
  Day 40: The Disappearing Hill
  Day 41: Extreme Fun
  Day 42: Seven Down, Three to Go
  Day 43: If your ski tips have no shadow, stop quick!
  Day 44: A Strange Object Flies Overhead
  Day 45: Perils of Crossing a Body-Heat Rubicon
  Day 46: Inspired to Greater Heights
  Day 47: Antarctica's Double Sun
  Day 48: Eight Degrees Down, Two To Go
  Day 49: Skiing in the Tropic of Antarctica
  Day 50: The Sun and its Antics
  Day 51: Short Antarctic Summers Wait for No One
  Day 52: Showers and laundry perhaps? No chance
  Day 53: Gaining the Polar Plateau
  Day 54: Good Weather, Fairly Flat Terrain
  Day 55: Climbing the Same Hill for Three Days
  Day 56: Cold but Very Pretty
  Day 57: Gorgeous Weather, Enjoyable Day
  Day 58: Almost There
  Day 59: The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
  The Flight to Patriot Hills
  Patriot Hills
  Mount Vinson
  Patriot Hills

Skiing to South Pole

Fierce Winds, Ultra-Cold Temperatures

Adventures in Antarctica

58 days, 700 mi, Nov 2006 - Jan 2007

Ray & Jenny Jardine

page 66 of 67

Patriot Hills

Ascent of the Patriot Mountains (2007-01-28)

The season has ended, and I am waiting for the flight back to South America.

Meanwhile, the winds slackened to 15 - 20 this evening, so I decided to attempt a climb of the Patriot mountains behind camp. I'd had my eye on these mountains since arriving in Antarctica, and a few weeks ago I attempted to climb them, but without much success. So with crampons and ski poles in hand, and a communication radio in my pocket, I clipped on my skis and set off from PH Base towards the west.

Half way to the mountains I reached the ice field, so I took off my skis and placed them where I could find them on the return trip. Then I put on my crampons. With these I traipsed across the vast blue ice that covers the surface for the next mile.


I'm half-way to the mountains across the ice field.


At the base of the mountains, ready to begin the ascent.

The first third of the climb was mixed terrain of scree frozen in place alternating with steep hard-packed snow. I had climbed that part before, but had learned much on Vinson, so it was much easier and more enjoyable this time, and quite a bit safer too.

Once at my previous high point, I took off the crampons and began to climb the steep scree. This type of slope would not exist elsewhere; the constant low temperature glues the scree together.

The terrain was mixed, rock and snow, and the winds were strong and of course very cold. Good practice for my Next Fun Trip, coming up in two weeks or less!

As I climbed higher, the Antarctic ice cap fell away below my feet, and I could see the horizon for tens of miles, and spectacular mountain ranges standing away in the distance. It felt like I was looking at a frozen eternity, untouched by humans for perhaps a few million years.

More steep snow, more steep frozen scree, and I reached the summit ridge in about three and a half hours.


About to reach the summit ridge.

As soon as I popped over the ridge, the cold wind blasted me in the face and the wind chill factor took on a whole different meaning.

I climbed up the ridge with utmost care, until finally reaching the summit of that particular group.

Once again this was not a summit you could stand on, because of the fierce wind and steep snow slopes dropping away. But there was also something in the way: an antenna!

I radioed PH Base and said that I had reached the summit, and was asked if I could take a photo of the PH camp spread out far below. No problem. I also took a photo of Foxy Pass, far away to the south, where Jenny and I had camped on our second night on the way to the Pole.


From the summit, looking east at Patriot Hills Base. The large blue patch is the ice field. The long blue strip is the Ilyushin runway. The short blue strip is the Twin Otter runway.


From the summit, looking north.


From the summit, looking southeast.


From the summit, looking south at Foxy Pass, where Jenny and I had camped on our second night on the way to the Pole.

The descent was no problem, but I did have to change in and out of my crampons a few times when encountering steep and frozen snow fields. And I did have to warm my fingers under my armpits once.

I returned to Base Camp long after dinner time, and most people had gone to bed. But I did manage to score a few choice pieces of home-baked chocolate cake with cream and strawberries. Ah, such a life!

Waiting for the Ilyushin (2007-01-29)


Vern Tejas


This strange photo shows a bunch of hard-core mountain climbers looking pretty glum. A camp doctor invited us to a lecture where he was instructing us on the recommended method of frostbite treatment. No one likes to see that, but we all wanted to learn. When he pulled the bandages away, all knees went weak.


The patient recovered straightaway, and later asked if she could take this photo with me. Not shown is her left hand with the frostbitten and well bandaged thumb.


Something else you don't see every day: people sitting outside on metal chairs, in Antarctica! Normally a metal chair would quickly freeze to your butt. But not in this case. Welcome to the tropic of Antarctica where the skies are blue, the wind is still, and the temps are not all that bad.


We all have climbed Vinson, time to party!


The Ilyushin is on it's final approach to land on the ice runway.



The Ilyushin-76 at Patriot Hills. Photo by John.


Flying first class on a Russian Cargo Jet. Just make yourself comfortable, anywhere will do.


Here is a better photo of the dagger I mentioned while flying in.

Ilyushin-76 en route to Punta Arenas (2007-01-30)

I am writing this on the Ilyushin-76, on my way back to Punta Arenas. The time is 2:00 AM, and we have been in the air 30 minutes. The Ilyushin is a big Russian cargo jet, about 30 feet wide, with a long bench seat along each side. Almost every seat is full, and there is hardly room for our feet due to the cargo.

The front half of the plane is loaded with empty fuel barrels, strapped in place, on which sits our gear. On top of that, several passengers are sleeping. The aft end of the plane contains more cargo, but I can't see what it is from here. Somewhere back there is my sled, hopefully.

Earlier tonight the weather turned into some of the best I have experienced during my visit to Antarctica, with clear skies, relatively warm temps, and - get this - no wind. As we waited for the plane, a party atmosphere ensued, with most people happy to be going home. I was happy too, but for a different reason.

Jenny and I were on the first plane load of the season on November 11, 2006; and now, 80 days later, I am on the last plane load for clients. I love Antarctica. I was very reluctant to leave.

Not that I don't like it at home. I certainty do, and I miss Jenny terribly. But I figure that I will get home soon enough. So with Jenny's blessings, I have decided to delay my return for another three and half weeks. Therefore, I am happy because I am planing to pursue my Next Fun Trip in the series.

Obviously my NFT will not be in Antarctica. The season there has ended, despite today's appearance. So my NFT will take place nearby, geographically speaking.

One theme amongst the climbers was the question "What are you going to do next?" I mentioned to a few people that I would like to have a go at Aconcagua. And as it turned out, three Vinson climbers were headed that way. And they said that I am welcome to join them. They were a guide and two clients, and I didn't want to take part in that kind of arraignment. So I just said "I hope to see you there." But as it turned out, they helped me a great deal.


Early morning we land in Punta Arenas.


The owners of the Condor de Plata hotel in Punta Arenas gave this mug to Jenny. It is her favorite coffee mug.

The story has 67 pages. This is page 66.
<---- Previous page   Next Page ---->
<< First page   Last page >>

Previous Article
 2006 05 Greenland 
Copyright © 2018
27,295,037 visitors
PLEASE DO NOT COPY these photos and pages to other websites. Thank you!
Next Article
 2007 01 Vinson