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 Bernard Voyer: Vinson 2001

 

After standing at the Earth's three poles—the North Pole, the South Pole and Mount  Everest—Bernard Voyer has taken on a new challenge: A world tour via the highest mountain on each continent.

Starting November 8, 2001, Bernard Voyer will complete the last stop on his World Tour of the highest mountains, by climbing Mount Vinson (4897 meters), the highest peak in the Antarctic, with climbing partner Nathalie Tremblay.

Update 11/11/2001: It is Sunday. Everything is going well here. We made it safely to Punta Arenas overnight from Friday to Saturday. We're quite tired from all the flights. But everything went well; all our luggage arrived safely and we had absolutely everything we needed. We spent a short night in Punta Arenas and began making preliminary preparations toward the Antarctic. We then left for Torres del Paine National Park, which is located approximately 450 km north of Puntas Arenas. This is a very special geological formation at the end of the Andes mountain range; its peaks tower more than 2000 meters high; it is very, very beautiful.

We set up camp at an altitude of 60 meters. We're not very high up, but the hiking, the training is done with good backpacks for hours and hours; we're adapting to the altitude, climbing a lot, training a lot-we're getting ourselves ready.

It is spring here. Everything is starting to turn green. There are dandelions; the birds are all a-twitter; the sun sets around 10 in the evening and rises around 5:30 in the morning. The wind blows constantly, which is typical of the tip of South America. Near Cape Horn, the weather changes constantly. Within a few minutes, there can be a strong wind, clouds, two or three snowflakes, and then the sun comes out, the wind stops, it is warm, and then it starts all over again. It is very, very unstable.

Training is going very well, and the more we train, the more psychologically prepared we become to reach our next goal, Mount Vinson.

The further south we look, far, far beyond, there are great chunks of ice waiting for us in the fastness of the Antarctic.

Returning to these places in Punta Arenas makes me a bit nostalgic; I am reliving everything, seeing again the places I visited during my expedition to the South Pole, the preparation in Puntas Arenas, etc. I have very beautiful memories.

Bernard Voyer

Update 11/13/2001: We're still in Torres Del Paine National Park, 450 kilometers north of Punta Arenas, training and making preparations. We're in an area of glaciers and very strong winds, with very unstable weather. We soon must return to Punta Arenas, maybe tomorrow, to see whether we still can leave for Antarctica on the 16th.

Apparently the weather in Antarctica right now are terrible, with howling winds and extreme conditions, which may delay our departure for Antarctica. We don't know when we'll get the green light. Our flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica will be in a Soviet plane, a Russian plane. I'll give you the specifications of this aircraft later, because we don't have them right now. It's a Russian plane. Once in Antarctica, we'll be using two types of planes, a DC-3 and probably a Cessna. So for right now, we're just making preparations.

So it's always windy, very strong winds, which is typical of spring and summer in Patagonia. Curiously, the wind dies down in winter, probably because the temperature gradients or differences are smaller. But right now we are experiencing constant, strong winds. I don't know if there is as much wind in Antarctica, I certainly hope not, but the wind here is blowing very strongly all the time.

We have gone on extended hikes, long hill walks, to train and develop the proper frame of mind for the expedition, and also to enjoy the amazing scenery here. I should point out that Torres Del Paine National Park is a protected site. So it's very beautiful, very uncommon. And quite popular with visitors. Part of the park gets many visitors, but to approach the mountain range and get close to the rock faces is a lot more difficult. There are only footpaths, often with sharp gradients to approach the summits.

Bernard Voyer

Dispatches >>>

Check his web site for more up to date dispatches in French.

For more on Bernard on EverestNews.com including his interview after Everest see here.

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