Sunday, January 4, 2015

Unbelievable..They Made it to the Top! The Top of the Bottom of the World!

After Randy admitting to me he wasn't sure he could make it because the mountain was kicking his butt; after the macho Russian team had turned back because it was too cold and windy; after a week where no one summited because it kept snowing (in the arctic desert) and the wind chill was bone chilling; after thinking there was no way Anders and Randy could summit together because Randy was so much slower, after me carrying my cell phone every single place I went this week, I mean EVERYWHERE, so I wouldn't miss their call....I got the breathless, emotional, and somewhat incredulous call from Randy that at 3:30 pm today, he and Anders and their whole team had stood on the summit together.

To be precise, they stood on the top of the bottom of the world!  Which is a bit mind boggling to think about, isn't it? They summited Vinson Massif, the highest mountain in Antarctica, 16,050 feet high but equivalent to a much higher altitude because of the decreased oxygen in the lower pressure air way down by the South Pole.

Significantly, it is one of the Seven Summits, meaning Anders has now climbed four of the seven summits, and Randy three.
Beside Vinson, Anders has climbed Aconcagua in South America, Denali (McKinley) in North America, Kilimanjaro in Africa
And Randy had climbed Aconcagua in South America and Kosciuszko in Australia

Randy could only talk for a minute because it was so cold, and they had to get back down to High Camp.  He was a bit breathless from lack of oxygen and I imagine exhaustion.  I'm not sure how he could even take his gloves off to dial a phone, but I'm glad he did! 

Here are his words:

We made it!  We made it to the summit.  I'm calling from just below the summit, at 15,800 ft.  The views are just unbelievable, so incredible you can't even imagine. It was spectacular.  The guides were amazing, they are so amazing.  We all made it together.  We left at 9am today and got up to the top at 3:30.  It was hard, so hard.  But the guides are the best guides in the world.  They got us up here. We did it as a team

I asked, You mean you and Anders stood on the summit together,?

Randy got very choked up and said, "Yes, we did. It was just incredible.  And the sun is out so the views are just unbelievable.  The most beautiful I've ever seen.  I'm sitting here talking to you right now looking at God's view. "

He said he couldn't talk longer because the guides wanted him to take care of himself, which I believe meant have some nutrition, water, and get his gloves and face covering back on!  So I told him I was proud of them, I loved them, and to get his and Anders' butts back down the mountain safely.  He said he loved me, tell everyone he loved them.  He held the phone out so Anders could yell hello and send his love from up high.  It was very emotional to hear the exhilaration and pride, yet a pride mixed with humility, in their voices.  I am sure a very satisfied but completely spent team is plodding back to camp now to collapse in their tents.  They said they'd call later to fill in the details!

Here's some pictures of the guys goofing around and getting ready at Anders home in CA last week:

And I can't resist posting an old picture of these two from a long time ago.  Who would have thought they'd be standing on top of Antarctica together?

More later when I hear from them.......

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