Today, a while ago, we left Seattle to climb Vinson Massif, 16,067 feet, the highest mountain in Antarctica! Just getting there was an adventure: flying first to Punta Arenas, Chile, the very tip of South America, and then, in a C130 cargo plane, 2,000 miles more to Patriot Hills, just 600 miles from the South Pole.
I’d seen pictures of the endless ice and the midnight daylight, and I was eager (if a little nervous) to see them for myself. But I was also excited because Vinson would be our fifth of the Seven Summits.
I had told Phil my hope of doing all seven, and he’d rolled his eyes the way he does when he thinks I’m chasing a pipe-dream, but after Aconcagua, I didn’t think it was that unreasonable. He, himself, admitted that I’d done fine at 22,841 feet, and that he believed I could climb higher.
Another anniversary! 33 years ago today, on October 20, 1984, after his third attempt, Phil made the first American ascent of the North Face of Mt. Everest!
Our happy Anniversary today with great memories of the first year we met. We started dating in January 1992. Phil was guiding in Ecuador and when he arrived home he received a voicemail from me at my office. First date, Chandlers for dinner in Seattle, the night progressed positively enough to consider another date. In February, he guided in South America and I received a Valentine card from him, loved it. In March, we had our second date at Sun Valley to join our past friend, Frank Wells birthday, and snow skied. In April, we started water skiing together on Lake Washington. In May, he could not join my dinner with several girlfriends because he was guiding on Denali. August, we did our first climb together, summit of Mt. Rainier, my first climb ever. September, we climbed to the summit of Kilimanjaro in Africa together. In December, Phil was unable to join my dear friends at the holiday party where we met because he was stuck on the ice while guiding in Antarctica. End of December, we went to Snowbird ski resort, owned by our past dear friend Dick Bass, and snow skied. One of the best years of my life!
Oh my how time flies, the second Seven Summit of my dreams with Phil was Mt. Elbrus in Russia, highest mountain in Europe. Lots of climbers are heading over to Russia now to climb Elbrus, wishing them all the best. We started our Elbrus adventure together 24 years ago. One great way to start the expedition is an acclimatization hike just prior to the climb, so standing on this rock in Russia worked!