Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Team Settled at Camp 1

Rob said that the move to Camp 1 took 5 hours today.  It was 0 degrees Fahrenheit and breezy in the morning.  Fortunately, though, the wind died down, and it turned out to be another great day.  Tomorrow the plan is to carry up to Camp 2, but the forecast is calling for winds that may keep the team bound to their tents. -Mark

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Another Perfect Day"

Rob reports today was "another perfect day."  He said the carry to Camp 1 was an "exhausting" 5-hour push, but besides being tired tonight, Rob and Graydon are both doing great!  They plan on moving up to Camp 1 tomorrow. -Mark

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Team at Vinson Base Camp

Rob just called and reported that the flight from Union Glacier to Vinson Base Camp on the Twin Otter was the "greatest airplane ride ever," and the flight over the sea of ice was "magical."  At Vinson Base they were treated to light winds, lots of sunshine, and a hamburger dinner.  Rob says the sun feels really intense and they are applying sunscreen every hour or so to protect their faces from sunburn.  Tomorrow they plan to make a 6-7 hour carry up to Camp 1. -Mark

First Report from the Ice - Rob and Graydon Land at Union Glacier!

Great news!  I just received the first call from Antarctica.  After a 4-hour flight, Rob and Graydon landed on Union Glacier at 11pm.  They will sleep there tonight, and tomorrow they are looking forward to making the 1-hour flight to Vinson Base Camp in a Twin Otter.

The satellite phone reception was great.  Rob and Graydon both sounded like they were in high spirits and were really excited to be there.  Stay tuned for more...


--==Climb High, Fly Low==--

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ready to Fly to Ice

This may be the last update we send until returning, as we are preparing to depart for Antarctica this afternoon. The last day and a half in Punta Arenas, Chile, has been a great chance to do a final sort of gear, get some sleep, and mentally prepare for the trip ahead. Yesterday the IL-76 made a cargo run to the Union Glacier ice strip and safely returned. The weather today is forecasted to be acceptable for another flight, however the winds are currently too strong on the glacier. In an hour we will receive another update from the logistics company as to whether or not we launch, but chances are likely we do. It is a four hour flight in the Russian cargo aircraft to the 'blue ice' runway. If we do make it this afternoon, we plan on making camp at Union Glacier, then flying via Twin Otter tomorrow morning to the base of Mt. Vinson. Since we like to think positively, if that goes well, we even plan to make our first gear carry up to Camp 1 and then return to sleep at the Vinson base camp the same day (tomorrow, 28 Nov). I'm (Rob) fighting a bit of a cold I picked up from the many nights of little sleep brought on by the last week of prep, long days at work, and travel down here, but it should be kicked soon. Either way, it won't slow me down. Graydon is feeling great now that he had a few nights of sleep. Our gear is already strapped down on the IL-76 Ilysuhin and we're simply on 'alert', awaiting the phone call to head to the airport.

The mountain will be pretty much empty, as no other mountaineering teams have been flown out yet. Other than our group of climbers lead by the famous Phil Ershler, there is a small brother and sister group who has two guides with them (including well known guide Wally Berg). That appears to be the extent of climbers heading to Antarctica at this time. I look forward to the relative solitude of such a small number of people in the area.

Attached are some photos from the slideshow we received yesterday from Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions. The presentation covered a lot of Antarctic programs- as there is a small number of people flying onto the continent to do research, cross country ski the last 50km to the South Pole, or just spend a few days watching and photographing Emperor Penguins.

If we do leave for the ice today, we'll check in with Capt. Mark Uberuaga via satellite phone once there. He'll then take over updates and occasionally keep you informed as we're able to feed him details. If you have any questions, Mark should be able to answer them or find someone who can, as he's not only a sharp guy, but also spent several years as a professional mountain guide!

Best wishes to everyone on your Thanksgiving weekend. (Sorry to hear Boise State choked and lost!)


Rob Marshall and Graydon Muller
USAF 7 Summits Challenge: ANTARCTICA

Friday, November 26, 2010

Charity Inspiration

Just woke up after a restful sleep here in Punta Arenas.  Looking forward to a hot breakfast and then a meeting with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions.  It's mostly sunny here, windy, and just slightly chilly- nice.

I wanted to write about two people who recently made donations/pledges to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation on behalf of the USAF 7 Summits Challenge.  The most recent one came from Emma Prior, a high school junior from WI that we met on our flight from Puerto Mott into Punta.  She is an exchange student in Chile and after hearing our climbing story, said she wanted to make a SOWF donation.  She says, "I'll just give you everything I have right now"... pulls out her little purse and hands Graydon a wad of 6,100 Chilean pesos, roughly $13.  The kindness of a stranger can be unbelievably uplifting!

The other donor I'd like to mention will remain 'Anonymous'... this person is of average means, making no more than most people.  However he/she wrote us as we were in Miami and said, "I'll give you $25 per summit push up and $35/pushup for each one over 50!"  Talk about motivation!!  The donations will be made in memory of SrA Danny Sanchez, a Hurlburt Combat Controller who was killed in Afghanistan this Sept.  While Danny didn't have any children, the donor says he was an amazing person who could really play the drums well, made them laugh/smile, and they are sad terrorists took him away.  There is a chance we'll be able to get a recording or two of Danny going to town on his drum set played on Antarctica... we're told he'd like to be coming on the climb with us, so maybe the drum tribute will let him know he is.

--==Climb High, Fly Low==--

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trying to Smell the Ice from Here...

Arrived in Punta Arenas. Windy! Plane had to go-around due to wind shear.  Hotel is literally 70yds from cold, gray Strait of Magellan.  All gear arrived in great shape. Breaking it down and resting b/f dinner with others.  After we tromp around this unusual and interesting town, we'll update everyone- post some photos.  Likely tomorrow morning or so!

--==Climb High, Fly Low==--


Well, we made it to Chile! Can I get a little, "CHI CHI CHI".... "LEY LEY LEY"?? Muy bien! The 8hr flight from Miami was easy. Graydon, who only had one hour of sleep the night before, was out quickly. He almost had a huge problem when his night training flight was diverted to Alabama due to dense fog in Florida. Somehow a hole opened up in the fog and he landed back at home base just as the fog came back-- someone's looking out for us.

I told him we needed to get a 'good luck' beer here in Santiago, as we had several of 'em before the Aconcagua climb and that was a great success. So, here we are enjoying a pint of Cristal cerveza. Mmm... delicioso.

Funny side note- we saw two people in line for visas that looked at us and said, "We're on your Vinson trip." I'm thinking- I don't recognize you! But they said they saw a Tweet about our trip and knew it was us by the 'USAF 7 Summits' shirts we are wearing. Funny how that works, I didn't think anyone saw those Tweets. Guess I'll have to keep up with it now! The couple is going with the famous owner of Berg Adventures. Should be a good time for them, but I have to admit getting to spend time with the famous (or infamous?) Phil Ershler is where it's at.

More to come once we get to Punta Arenas. I have some great news about a person who made a sizeable pledge/challenge for the # of pushups knocked out on the summit... it has me motivated! --Rob

--==Climb High, Fly Low==--
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Solar Success!!

The team received a set of solar panels from Goal0, a company out of Salt Lake City that wanted to support the Antarctica climb.  I don't have much experience with powerful solar cells, so was very surprised when I walked outside today and heard my iPhone start charging before I even set the things up!  It's cloudy out today (about time- it's Nov after all) and this little sucker was pumping 7W of juice to the phone, which is quite finicky about the power it receives.

Bottom Line:  I'm impressed!!  Goal0 started from a guy's need for better power while doing humanitarian work in the Congo.  From that came some pretty amazing (light weight) tools.  We're going to use one of these Nomad 7's in Antarctica to charge our SAT phone, cameras, and iPods, so we wanted to test it out and get familiar.  It passes the test big time.  Now to see how it works in -40F!

--==Climb High, Fly Low==--

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

12 Nov, 4pm New Coverages

Here is more regional TV coverage of the 7 Summits Challenge and Antarctica! The local station has an average audience of ~800,000+ people, so this is fantastic promotion of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Air Force.

--==Climb High, Fly Low==--

Saturday, November 13, 2010

AF 7 Summits: Prime Time TV

We generated some great media coverage on the largest local TV network: WEAR in Pensacola (ABC). Here is a link to the segment they aired last night during the 6 o'clock news. There was another piece on earlier at 4pm, but we don't have that yet. Hopefully we'll have a high-quality copy of this and will then post it to the website.

I've got to tell you- Laura Hussey, the reporter, grabbed that pack full of 65# weight and started walking around with it in high heels on soft dirt. Impressive!! We also got to teach them about the 'rest-step' while shooting the stairmaster part.

Our favorite part is how it ended with the 'Special Operations Warrior Foundation' bit... perfect piece of earned media!

Click below for the WEAR page: http://www.weartv.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wear_vid_12142.shtml

Great Article from Top Local Paper!

Check out this great article just release from the NW Florida Daily News. It came out on the front page of Saturday's paper, just one day after they interviewed us. I think it's one of the best written we've seen in a very long time!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


We are excited to announce the USAF 7 Summits Challenge will be taking on the fifth peak in its bid to climb the highest peak on each of the Earth's continents. On Nov 24th 2010 (less than a month!), two active duty airmen will take the Air Force flag south to the frozen continent of Antarctica. Over the three week trip, they will endure temperatures averaging -25F in order to climb the 16,067ft Vinson Massif, Antarctica's highest peak. To date, the team has successfully climbed Mt. McKinley (N. America), Mt. Aconcagua (S. America), Mt. Elbrus (Europe), and Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa) and are on track to being the first American military team to climb the famed 7 Summits.
Many of you already know the goal of the USAF 7 Summits Challenge: to not only put the Air Force into the record books, but to give both military members as well as the American public a positive event to rally around. Since the World Cup and the Olympics aren't on these days, cheering on this mountaineering team is an exciting way to get a little dose of patriotism!! We climb in memory of those Airmen that have fallen since 9/11 and in honor of all those who serve, both past and present. Additionally, we want to promote personal fitness and a sense of adventure, as the combination of these encourage people to expand their horizons and challenge themselves physically and mentally.

The first peak the team climbed was in 2005, after the crash of a USAF MC-130 and the loss of all 9 crewmembers. However the idea for the project began in 2001 after one of our member's visit to Everest Base Camp. It was there that the vision of the US Air Force flag flying from atop the highest point in the world was born. We can think of no better way to showcase the teamwork, camaraderie, pride, fitness, professionalism and drive found in America's Airmen than through this historic challenge. With your support, we will continue to gain the momentum necessary to climb Mt. Everest and hopefully lay the foundation for an ongoing adventure-fitness program throughout the Air Force.

There are three important ways to show your support!
==1st== If you use Facebook, link to the 'USAF 7 Summits Challenge' page. Our goal is to reach 1,000 supporters in the next month. The more support we can raise, the better position we will be to get the Air Force support necessary to climb Everest!
==2nd== Make a pledge or donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the charity we have supported for the last 5 years. You can do so at:www.firstgiving.com/USAF7Summits. Sadly, we’ve seen it in action up close and in person, but it does an amazing job to help families when a love one is lost working in the dangerous Special Operations community. To date we’ve raised nearly $50,000 and we hope to double that soon!
==3rd== PASS THIS ALONG! Forward this e-mail to your family/friends/co-workers/anyone! How can we get people excited about American's pushing their limits and flying the US and Air Force flag around the world if they don't know about it?! Plus, we're always in need of sponsorship (everything is out of pocket so far), so if you know someone's company that might be interested in advertising through us (fly your company logo from the summit of Antarctica?!), send this their way!
Thanks for your support, whether you have been with us for the last five years or if this is the first you’ve heard of our program. We are EXCITED for the opportunity to take on this challenge and sure hope you’re along for the ride, as it’s more fun/rewarding with a crowd!