Yesterday I shared a video from a live Q&A session that North Face athletes Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Hilaree Nelson, and Jim Morrison did over the weekend. During that virtual presentation, the foursome shared stories from their recent expedition to Antarctica, which took place back in January of this year. While on the frozen continent, the climbers set their sights on new lines up Mt. Vinson, which is the highest mountain in the Antarctic. But as is often the case with these kinds of extreme adventures, things don’t always go exactly as they are planned.
If you missed the video or didn’t have time to watch the entire thing, The North Face has posted an interview with the team that provides some perspective on their expedition. What was expected to be a relatively straight forward attempt on a somewhat familiar mountain ended up becoming much more challenging and difficult than first imagined. In the end, it wasn’t about whether or not they would make the summit, but if they could get back down safely and make it home.
The origins of the expedition came about when Anker invited the other three climbers to join him after he had wrapped up guiding a commercial team on Vinson. Their goal was to summit that mountain along the Central Ice Stream, putting up a first ascent as the went. After that, the plan was to travel to Mt. Tyree to climb and ski that peak as well. The start of the climb was hampered by poor weather conditions, but eventually the ground was able to join Conrad in Vinson Base Camp. Not long after that, they set out on their climb, but found conditions to be very different than they had expected, with much deeper snow than anticipated. This led to a number of challenges and was a precursor of other things to come.
The story is an interesting one because you get the actual details of the expedition straight from the climbers themselves. It also doesn’t hurt that Jimmy Chin’s excellent photography accompanies the piece, which includes insights into team dynamics, assessing risk and danger, and the logistics of an extreme expedition. After reading this, you’re more likely to want to go back and watch the video, as there are even more details to be shared there. Needless to say, I could listen to Conrad, Jimmy, Hilaree, and Jim share tales from their adventures all day long.
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