The team has safely arrived in Punta Arenas with all luggage accounted for, which was a huge relief! After over 34 hours of travelling, we landed to wild and windy conditions of the Punta Arenas coastline. There was some spectacular flying over Patagonia, with the pilot showing off the breathtaking scenery with some high banked turns en route – not your usual flight that’s for sure! Based on past experience, we’d packed as much of our essential kit in our carry-on luggage: down jackets, mountaineering boots and a full set of clothing.
Since arriving, the team have been acclimatising to our local surroundings, finding the best steak house and preparing kit. This morning our hold baggage was collected and weighed on the street outside our hostel –no check-in kiosk, just a portable digital scale and someone with a pen and bag tag to record the name, weight and mark the destination!
We had a full briefing this afternoon from the ALE team at the headquarters on the flight logistics, weather window requirements and the rules and regulations to follow in Antarctica. The brief started with welcome drinks, served on ice from Antarctica in specially commissioned glasses for everyone to keep – a nice memento. What’s special about the flight onto the Antarctic continent is that all passengers are required to wear full cold weather gear, in anticipation of stepping out into -25 degrees C conditions. Thankfully the cabin temperature will be maintained at a cool 13 degrees C.
There will be a number of teams on the same flight as us, but not all climbing Vinson. Some are off to spend time with the penguins on the coast, others heading to the South Pole. An interesting mix of all nationalities.
The flight departure time is entirely dependent on the wind conditions at Union Glacier and the cloud base being above 7,000ft. So, the team are now packed and ready, with a 30 minute notice to move starting from 07:30 tomorrow morning. The waiting game has officially begun!