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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 11/26/2001: We are still in Punta Arenas. The weather conditions in Antarctica are not improving at all. There are huge cloud banks accompanied by strong winds, which makes any thought of flying impossible. The next weather updates will come at the very end of the day, and we will know whether we can leave this evening, overnight or tomorrow. We don't know yet, but for now, no flight can land. There is no way the Ilyushin aircraft can land on a natural ice landing strip in these conditions.

So we're still biding our time here in Punta Arenas, waiting for our flight.

Talk to you again soon, Bernard Voyer

Update 11/27/01: At 7:00 o'clock this morning, the call came for us to get ready. The weather conditions apparently had cleared up quite quickly. The winds were still far too strong this morning, but appeared to be settling down. A trend toward better weather conditions. So we got ready: we left the hotel here by bus for a half-hour drive to the Punta Arenas airport. Then we went through the typical flight check-in, although this was neither a domestic nor an international flight, but a special flight to Antarctica. The Russian crew was already there, so we joined them to wait for the weather to break. But the clearing trend quickly stopped. The conditions stabilized with very strong winds and gusts, especially gusting winds in Antarctica, making any landing on the Patriot Hills natural airstrip impossible for the Ilyushin-76 aircraft.

So we waited until 3 :30 pm, almost the entire day, with weather updates every 20 minutes, but no improvement and no deterioration, steady winds with very strong gusts. This pattern continued for the entire day. So we decided to return to Punta Arenas and reclaim our baggage left at the hotel. All our equipment, however, has been loaded on the Ilyushin for several days, ready for takeoff.

So here we are back in Punta Arenas, where we continue to wait on weather updates every two hours or so, for a takeoff window. But we have absolutely no idea when. The call might come in the middle of the night, so we're waiting for another break in the weather.

So this was a false start. Everything was ready, we had put on our mountain-climbing gear, so we would be ready to deplane in Antarctica in the middle of a fierce storm and freezing temperatures. But we returned to our starting point to wait yet again.

Our only consolation is that the mountain isn't about to go anywhere or lose altitude, and it's not like the ice is going to melt in Antarctica. So we're trying to keep our spirits up as best we can, while we wait. There's nothing else to be done. We're waiting again for another tentative departure, as soon as the weather conditions in Antarctica calm down a little.

Till tomorrow, 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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