Expedition Leader &
On January 2, 2009, at 5 p.m. local (Chilean) time, the third team in the Seven Summits Club season scaled the highest peak in Antarctica – Vinson Massif (4,897 m). Despite the intense frost and snow, all ten team members managed to reach the summit. This accomplishment marked several simultaneous records: the first Mongolian alpinist climbed the highest peak of Antarctica; Ludmila Korobeshko became the first Russian woman to have completed the Seven Summits Project; this was also the final climb for the Italian Lorenzo Goriano as part of the Seven Summits Project.
Now some more details on the expedition: after waiting for more than 10 days for flying weather at Punta Arenas, late on December 26, our team finally took off for Antarctica. On the early morning of December 27 we landed on Patriot Hills, where we were welcomed by Sergey Kofanov, who had been in Antarctica for about three weeks by the time. He prepared a hearty welcome for us, complete with ready tents. So we went to sleep without wasting any more time.
Only after more than two days we managed to fly over to the Vinson Base Camp – in the early morning of December 29. That same day we loaded our sleds to the max and completed a six-hour trip to Low Camp (2,800 m) (for some it proved an eight-hour trip). The following day, December 30, we made a heroic break for High Camp (3,800 m) on parapets. Notably, for the Mongolian representative, Gankhu, it was the first experience of climbing parapets and wearing crampons. He coped with the task admirably, covering some 1,500 m of parapet ropes up and down. On December 31, we had a planned day of rest and celebration of the New Years – starting with Mongolia (with Gankhu Gendendaram as Father Frost), followed by Yekaterinburg (Fathers Frost - Grigory Korishch, Andrei Suetin, Sergey Kofanov, the Snow Maiden - Olga Boreikina), then Moscow (Father Frost - Sergey Kofanov again, the Snow Maiden – Ludmila Korobeshko), then Kiev (Father Frost – Vladimir Stepashko), then Italy (Santa Claus - Lorenzo Goriano), and two American New Years (Santa Claus's - Bill Tyler and James Wild). We celebrated the Chilean New Year by uncorking a bottle of champagne, playing a match of volleyball, chess, and little surprise gifts for every participant. Sergey Kofanov masterfully hosted our own rendition of the New Year’s traditional Blue Light performance contest.
The following day, January 1, the entire team relocated to High Camp. A weather report that evening promised some foul weather up ahead with wind gusts up to 40 km an hour. Some teams decided against climbing. But Sergey made the decision to climb anyway, which proved to be the right choice. Setting off after 9 a.m., we reached the summit at 5 p.m. Some team members even broke out crying – this was a cherished dream for many, which had seemed unreal for so long.
A few hours later we descended to High Camp. Upon hearing the weather forecast, Sergey made the decision to go down to Low Camp - wind was expected to intensify by nightfall. His decision was further proven correct, as all the remaining teams stayed in High Camp for the night and then could not descend for two more days due to high winds.
Omitting the details, after a long wait for planes, on January 9 our entire team arrived at Punta Arenas.