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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 11/28/2001: This morning the weather was still terrible over Antarctica, but at 3:00 pm we received a call to go to the airport. The Russian crew wanted the various climbers and skiers to go, in case we could take off because the weather reports and the latest satellite photos showed some possible improvement over Antarctica.

So we went to the airport. At 4:00 pm, there we were waiting and we were getting weather reports every 20 minutes, but nothing was confirmed. The wind was picking up again and clouds were moving in. We waited until 7:00 pm before the Russian crew decided that we should return to Punta Arenas and wait.

We have now met other climbers who also want to climb Mount Vinson, but, unlike us, they had planned to leave for Antarctica at the end of November to make the climb in the first fifteen days of December; as a result there are many of us here now-the November climbers and the December climbers, so to speak. We get along fairly well and we have had the opportunity to get to know them, including mountain climbers from Norway, Austria, and Scotland. There is also a climber from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Romania and some climbers from the United States. And if it carries on like this, I have to say that Santa Claus will also be coming to join our expedition since time is marching on and people are starting to talk about very long delays.

We are in fairly good spirits. We are very focused on climbing this mountain and nothing is going to upset us, at any rate, not very much at the moment. We are waiting for good weather. It is indeed an atrocious spring in Antarctica with dreadful weather up to now, with the result that there have been no flights to Antarctica, except this first DC-3 flight, which was able to land at Patriot Hills.

Everyone is waiting-there is nothing else to do. When we leave for the airport it feels strange because here in Punta Arenas, it is definitely springtime. The trees are in bloom and we can see lilacs and tulips, yet we always leave the hotel dressed for winter in our big down suits, huge climbing boots, anoraks, our hat and gloves in our hands, and our rucksacks on our back. And once on board the Ilyushin, it is not very well insulated, so it's cold. However, four and a half to five hours later, when you get out of the plane at Patriot Hills, you are immediately greeted with very strong winds and ice, on which you have to erect a small nylon tent.

So we are waiting for the flight after the DC-3, which will take us to the base camp at Mount Vinson; as time wears on, there seems to be a bigger contrast between our clothing and our preparations, and the weather here in Punta Arenas. The children will finish school in a few days for their summer vacation, when people start eating ice cream in the street. Life goes on here in Punta Arenas.

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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