THE 16,067-FOOT JOURNEY
THE 16,067-FOOT JOURNEY
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and so does a 16,067 foot summit climb. In less than two weeks, I will be embarking on such a journey, but the preparations began about a year ago. Every mountaineering expedition has a season. The climbing season for Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica begins in November and ends in January. The first step begins with the decision. For the past six years, I have been working towards my dream to complete the Adventure Grand Slam. This entails climbing the Seven Summits and skiing to the North Pole and skiing to the South Pole. This climb is my sixth of the seven summits. The second step involves the financial planning for such an adventure. The cost for every climb is different…with some being minimal and others being more substantial. In some instances, that can seem the biggest uphill challenge. However, it’s my belief that if you want something badly enough, you will find a way. The third step begins the physical preparation. For me, this starts about six months prior to the climb. Training consists of climbing stairs (in or out of the gym), cardio workouts, and strength training. When I am training on the stairs, I practice Pressure Breathing, which is crucial to climbing high altitudes. At some point, I add a 40lb backpack to my stair training. This year I have incorporated an elevation mask to help with respiratory muscle conditioning.
At 7:00pm on November 22, I leave New York for Santiago, Chile, with a connecting flight to Punta Arenas, Chile. I will meet my team of three other climbers and RMI Expeditions guide, Dave Hahn. We will go through a detailed personal equipment and gear check. After a couple of nights there, we make final preparations for the flight to Union Glacier and spend some time exploring the city of Punta Arenas. The flight to Union Glacier, Antarctica, is approximately five hours long. We will cross the Drake Passage and the Antarctic Circle before landing on a blue ice runway. If weather permits, we will board a Twin Otter aircraft to Vinson Massif Base Camp. This flight is about an hour. Here the climb begins!!!
One of the best parts of an adventure like this is meeting other people with similar dreams as myself. I have met some amazing people traversing up a mountain. One of those I am especially excited to be climbing with is Dave Hahn, our guide. Dave is a legend in the mountaineering world. He has reached the summit of Vinson Massif a record 35 times. He has reached the summit of Everest 15 times, which is more than any non-sherpa climber. He has summited Denali in Alaska 21 times, Mt. Rainier in Washington State more than 275 times. Dave participated in an expedition in 1999 on Mt. Everest that discovered and identified the remains of explorer George Mallory, who died trying to scale Everest in 1924. I guess you could say that Dave Hahn is the Michael Jordan of the climbing world.
This will be a journey of a lifetime! I hope you will come along as I share this adventure on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.