Jamie Pierce
01/10/2006, Some place over the Southern tip of South America en-route to ice

On board, loaded and heading south

I'm going to get a jump start on this web cast. All in all the waiting was better than years past, I've seen it better and I've seen it worse. I figure it's better to just not sugar coat the realties of waiting for good weather, you can't if you except it, it makes the journey so much more enjoyable.

Don and Carolyn both were wonderfully patient no doubt. It's not easy waiting, especially since planning this trip began so long ago. It's hard waiting when your so close to the continent. Anyhow that was soon over after we got the call to leave, we paid the room bills, and headed out for the airport. I have to say it was remarkably smooth considering we had 40 folks, personal effects, luggage, gear, and so much more through the airport in a fairly expedited manner. So hats off to Antarctic Logistics, and the great manner in which they handled all of us. It's not easy thing, and they did it seamlessly. We were on the plane and leaving no more than 2 hours after getting the call to leave, that is impressive.

The excitement mounted no doubt when we rolled onto the tarmac and the plane was staring us down. Getting off the bus and looking up at this monster plane is really exciting to say the least, as well really intimidating. The back of the aircraft has these monster doors that swing or rather butter-fly open, and this is where we loaded up. In all after a few photographs, we were loaded up and strapped down. This aircraft is a cargo plane, no comforts at all, it's designed to transport mainly equipment and troops, except now it's a peaceful mission, and one that has 40 wide-eyed adventurers sitting on the interior sideways on wooden benches with no padding. I can't imagine a flight lasting much longer than 4 1/2 hours, but they do, and one deals accordingly.

I'm on this plane next to Todd Rutledge trip leader from Mountain Trip leading his own group, and Lori Baker a Radiologist from San Diego California flying onto the South Pole. She has been to the North Pole as well on the Russian Ice breaker the Klebnikoff (sorry to hack the spelling up). Don and Carolyn are right across from me and looking very excited, they both have a permanent grin on there faces. It's so fun to see them so excited. They are in for such an adventure I'm not able to describe it. They have trained hard, and it will pay off. In fact just yesterday while we were waiting out for the weather to clear up, Don was the only one around doing stairs, exactly 142 of them to be exact, with his pack on.

I will finish this tonight after I get to the ice, get camp established and our tents all set up. I can tell you one thing, in my experience having the best tents in the world is a matter of life and death, and in my opinion the best tents in the world are Hilleberg tents from Sweden. That is all we use for any polar expedition and high altitude climb such as Vinson Massif.

I'm keeping this short, it's 3:00 AM and I'm heading to bed. Everyone is snug in there massive down sleeping bags, tents are up and were here. It was a great flight, no problems as all. I will give more details in the morning.

Good night, or good morning.

Heading out, we think...
01/10/2006, Punta Arenas still, not for long though.

Well we got the call, it sounded good on the ice, at least long enough for us to get the green light to prepare for a departure. I'm waiting for my folks to join me in the lobby of the hotel, then we'll board the bus on our way to the airport. It's quite an undertaking get everyone organized, dressed and ready for the departure to just the airport. That said, I'm still a little optimistic on the conditions. Rumors are running around that Patriot Hills is excepting more snow and reduced visibilty, I find it entertaining really. The rumor mill is always such entertainment really. We will try, we also may be back before we fly out and go through the whole procedure of ushering folks through customs and security, yes we have the same formalities as a normal commercial carriers excersise, this though is far from ordinary.

In my experience, as the sun dips closer to the horizon, the winds typically calm down, and that may be our ticket. It's a 4 1/2 flight to the ice, and assuming we launch in say 2 1/2 hours from now, that would have us on the ice between 11:00 and 12:00 PM tonight, really it's an idealyic scenario. We'll see, I'm always hesitant to state my opinion on weather, since folks can hang on the words you offer up. The good news is were still on schedule, we have all this factored into our climb, allowances are sometimes never needed, but on this climb they almost always are needed. So hopefully the next dispatch will be from the ice, making it truly the beginning of this trip. Ciao for now.....Jamie

Hotel Cabo De Hornos
01/10/2006, Still Punta Arenas, but hopefully that will change soon!

It's 0530 in the morning, the light is just coming up, I'm up and ready to start the day. We were on stand-by all day yesterday starting at 0930 waiting for a phone call stating the weather was good enough to fly. The phone calls came every 2 hours or so, but the weather was not looking good. Bad weather on the ice in this instance was the wind, just to high given the tricky nature of landing a large aircraft on a "blue ice runway". This is really as tricky as it may sound. Most planes use brakes to stop, we don't and can't, instead it uses 'reverse thrust", and a long runway to slow down. This particular aircraft is really large, in fact it's huge. All of our gear is onboard, and all were left with is the cold weather gear we will fly to the ice with, and a small carry on with some personal effects in it. Wish us luck today, and a big hello to all my familly, Mom, John, Debbie and anyone else I'm forgetting.

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