Vinson Day 1: Touchdown in Antarctica
January 11, 2013
The Ilyushin flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier Base Camp in Antarctica took exactly 4 hours and 40 minutes. We touched down on the blue ice runway (8 km/5 miles) long at 11:50 AM.
Ilyushin on the Blue Ice runway at Union Glacier.
It was very cold as the runway was in the shade. We carefully walked the icy runway and took a few pictures while waiting for our ride to Union Glacier Base Camp. A modified van showed up and picked us up for the 10-minutes ride. Union Glacier is a multi-purpose camp that functions as a base for Mountain Climbers heading to Mount Vinson or other peaks, skiers heading to the South Pole and researchers heading to the Base Station.
Joe Ashkar & Russell Brice at Union Glacier Base Camp, Antarctica.
The facilities are very impressive and well maintained. Upon our arrival we were welcomed in the heated dining and mess tent and promptly served warm drinks and cookies. After meeting up with our guide Garrett, we got a quick briefing on logistics. At 1 PM we were served beef stew and mashed potatoes followed by a delicious cake for dessert.
Guides tent at Union Glacier.
Union Glacier Base Camp.
Pulling our bags to the plane.
We were then informed by ALE that we’re 3rd in line to fly from Union Glacier Base Camp to Vinson Base Camp. I walked around and took some photos and hung out for a couple of hours until it was our turn to fly out. We then boarded a DHC-6 Twin Otter for a 40-minutes 94 miles/151 km unforgettable scenic flight. The scenery was out of this world and the best I’ve ever seen.
Boarding the DHC-6 Twin Otter.
Aboard the DHC-6 Twin Otter on the way to Vinson Base Camp.
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As soon as we landed we pitched our tents and got settled in. We were served hamburger meat, chicken, vegetables and mashed potatoes for dinner. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and by the time I went to bed at 2 AM, the sun was still shining up in the sky.
Vinson Base Camp.
Tomorrow we plan to head up to low camp.