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Juan Antonio Huisa and Pedro López, from Club Deportivo Siete Cumbres, will face the Antarctic challenge soon, a project with the sponsorship of Turismo, Comercio y Deporte 

The Seville climbers Juan Antonio Huisa and Pedro López, from Club Deportivo Siete Cumbres, have ended a hard and intense phase of preparation for Andalucía-Antártida 2004 Expedition, which is planned to take place next December, with the sponsorship of Consejería de Turismo, Comercio y Deporte. 

The Andalucian climbers started their preparation last May on the Atlas mountain system, in Morocco, where they assaulted the three highest summits of the country, among them Toubkal, the roof of Morocco and the North of Africa with 4,167 m., where they also had a bivouac to spend the night on the summit, a very unusual thing to do because of the low temperatures.

After that first success, Huisa and López headed towards the Dolomites in the North of Italy, in June, where they faced the highest peak, Marmolada, with 3,342 m.  After a first failed attempt due to weather conditions, they reached the summit.  From there, they went to the French Alps, where they crowned the most prestigious summit of Europe, Mont Blanc with 4,807 m., after three days of hard work, where they had one technical difficulty after another, like great altitude differences, mixed terrain, falling stones and strong winds. 

Finally this last July they went to Cordillera Blanca in Peru, where the objective was to ascend above 5,500 m. to have optimal acclimatization that could be useful on their great challenge in Antarctica in December.  First they climbed Nevado Pisco, 5,752 m., where they had to deal with climbing slopes with large inclination and to pass big crevasses.  Then it was Tocllaraju, 6,030 m., but they had to quit just 80 meters from the summit because of a great storm.  Despite that, the objective was widely covered. 

After those successes the Sevillians start to cover the last details for the Andalucía-Antártida 2004 Expedition, whose objective is to climb Mount Vinson, 4,897 m., the roof of the frozen continent.  This expedition would be an historic hit for Andalucian climbing and for Andalucía, because they want to be the first climbers of the Autonomous Community to achieve the seven summit project, based on crowning the highest peak of every continent. 

This initiative is sponsored by Consejería de Turismo, Comercio y Deporte and co-sponsored by Consejería de la Presidencia, the city of Sevilla, Merkamueble and Canal Sur.  The expedition will take place during the month of December during the Austral winter, with natural light for 24 h. a day. 

Expedition plan: 

December 1-2.  Trip, Sevilla - Madrid - Punta Arenas (Chile) in Patagonia 

December 2-4.  Last preparations, stocking, get flight tickets to Antarctica, permits, authorizations and bureaucratic paperwork. 

December 4.  Flight in Hercules plane towards Antarctica.  The flight time from Punta Arenas to the Patriot Hills Canadian base is around 6 h., depending on the wind.  From the plane, the islands of Charcot and Alexander can be seen at 71º of latitude.  Alexander is a large island in the Sea of Bellingshausen separated from land by the strait of George IV.  The trip continues until the spectacular Ellsworth Mountains, the highest mountain system in Antarctica, can be seen in the distance.  Passing Ellsworth, there is a landing strip, a frozen area located at 1,000 m. above sea level.  In Patriot Hills, they have to take a Twin Otter plane to fly to Mount Vinson base camp; this trip can last an hour and 15 minutes. 

December 5-17.  Base camp is located at 2,300 m. on the best ridge of Ellsworth.  From base camp they have to climb by the narrow valley of Branscomb Glacier and the route climbs with big cracks, for two miles (3 km.) towards camp I, located at an altitude of 2,600 m.  After a three hour flat trek towards the northeast the slope begins.  Always northeast, and after three hours, the ridge that covers Vinson is passed, and this one can be accessed by a canal (40º) exposing to the South, which can be seen in the front.  From 3,200 m. they have to go down a steep slope to a glacier valley in the base of the southwest vertices of Vinson, a place which is at 3,100 m. of altitude.  Another climb of 2 km. and we arrive to camp II at 3,300 m. 

Camp III, the last camp, is located at 3,750 m.  The route continues northeast, now through an icefall with hidden crevasses covered by tricky layers of fragile snow, which make the march difficult.  Then we arrive to the wide and exposed point between Mount Shinn and Mount Vinson, where we will locate camp III.  In this is a windy place, walls of ice are needed to shelter the tents.  From this col, to the southeast, a glacier valley of a soft slope leads in 6 or 7 h. of climbing to the summit zone of the mountain.  The main summit raises in the background to the right.  Walk back to the inferior camps until the arrival to base camp. 

December 18-19.  Return by small plane to Patriot Hills base and in Hercules plane to Punta Arenas. 

December 19-23.  Visit to Punta Arenas and trip back to Spain. 

The frozen continent of Antarctica has a layer of ice that can be more than 4 kilometers thick.  Located almost entirely but not totally to the South of 66º 30' S; which is the Antarctic Polar Circle. 

Its form is circular with an arm which is the Antarctic Peninsula, and two great entrances which are the Ross and Wedell seas. More than 95% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which represents 90% of non-salted water worldwide.  Its elevation average is 2,300 m.  Its surface is more than 14 million km² and it doubles in the winter, so its limit is not its summer littoral but a maritime zone south of parallel 55/60º.  In this point called Antarctic Convergence, the cold currents that run north mix with the hot ones of the oceans, so the semi-frozen waters surrounding Antarctica are considered like its own ocean: the Antarctic Glacial Ocean.  The Drake pass, south of Cabo de Hornos, is the narrowest point in this ocean. 

Antarctica has recorded the coldest temperature in the world: -88.3º C in 1960 in Vostok station.  The winds blow up to 320 km/h.  There are three climatic areas: a freezing interior and a cold dessert with abundant sleet storms but almost no snowfalls; the coast, with higher temperatures and precipitations; and the Antarctic Peninsula where sometimes the thermometer climbs above zero and where rains mix with snowfalls.  The interior of the continent has light at 24 h. in the Austral summer and absolute night the remaining six months, conditions which are milder in the coast. 

To the West there are diverse mountain systems, like the Sentinel Chain or Ellworth Mountains.  Mount Vinson with its 4,897 m. (until recently 5,140 m.) is the highest peak of this chain and the entire Antarctic.  In spite of the generalized idea that there is no life in the interior of Antarctic, in the Dry Valleys, discovered by Scott in 1903, a scientific group of National Geographic has discovered life in the form of algae, fungus, moss and bacteria.  Numerous species of birds, fish and mammals live in the coastal zones.  There are no trees and vegetation is limited to 350 species in the non-frozen zones, even at 475 km from the South Pole.  Three species of floral plants have been discovered.  No terrestrial vertebrate inhabits it; although acarus and ticks have occasionally been found.  The Antarctic Glacial Ocean is rich with krill, seals, whales and birds. 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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