Vinson Massif: Post 1

Off again, this time to the coldest and most inhospitable place on earth. Antarctica is a frozen desert with less that a inch of rainfall a year. The continent is made up of rocks and Ice. No permanent residents or animals other than crazy humans. That said it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth. Over the next 2 weeks I will be dragging myself and gear to the top of Mt Vinson Massif, one of the 7 summits and the largest peak in Antarctica.
I am on my third flight that will end up tonight in Punta Arenas on the southern most point of Chile. Punta Arenas is Spanish for Sandy Point the name was changed from the Spanish word starvation point after a Spanish expedition starved to death over a winter years ago. Over the next two days and two more flights I will arrive at base camp and begin my climb.
This is the hard part of the expedition when I deal with the guilt and worry of leaving my family and friends behind to go chase another adventure while they pick up the slack left in my absence. The doubt always creeps in, am I even physically and mentally up to this. This is my 5th year of going after big mountains and along the way I have picked up skills, confidence and a clearer line that defines my mental and physical limits. As the years go and my physical abilities fade it is replaced by a mental resolve that will carry me much further than my body ever would. Hopefully more lessons to pass on to my grandkids, coworkers and friends.
I met a friend from Everest 16′ and will be climbing together. He started a non profit and works with veterans suffering from PTSD. He brings awareness to the epidemic level of suicides among our vets. I also am climbing with the Adventure Consultant team and while I don’t know the leader of this expedition, I know the high standards that AC have and glad to be climbing with them again.
Mt Vinson between high and low camp, the head wall one of the harder days on fixed ropes with heavy pack.
Me and Ford the night before my departure. Who’s hair is more jacked up?

Antarctica Facts:

  • Antarctica is the Earth’s 5th largest continent, measuring 14 million square kilometres (5.4 million square miles).
  • The ice sheet that covers almost all of Antarctica is the largest body of fresh water on earth, containing about 90% of the world’s ice and 68% of the fresh water.
  • If Antarctica’s ice sheet were to melt, it would raise the level of the world’s oceans about 60 meters (200 feet).
  • The thickest part of the ice sheet extends about 4,800km (2980nm) (15,700 feet) into submerged basins in the rock.
  • Antarctica has the greatest average elevation of any continent at 1,860 metres (6,100 feet). The average elevation of North America is 720 metres (2,300 feet).
  • The highest mountain on the continent is Vinson Massif,4,897 metres (16,067 feet), situated in the Ellsworth Mountains.
  • The snow fall in Antarctica is so minimal that the continent has been called “the world’s coldest desert”. The interior receives less than 3 cm (1 inch) of precipitation a year, making it the driest continent on Earth.
  • The Antarctic dry valleys in Victoria Land are among the driest places on Earth. Some scientists believe that no rain has fallen there for two million years. Astronauts have visited the dry valleys because of their similarity to lunar landscapes.
  • Mean temperatures in the inland during the coldest month from -40 F to -94 F and in the warmest month from 5 F to -31 F. At the coasts, the temperature ranges between 5 F to -22 F in winter and about 32 F in summer. On July 21, 1983, the Soviet station, Vostok, reported a record-breaking 128.6 F below freezing.
  • During winter months, low temperatures cause much of the seas around Antarctica to freeze. At maximum sea ice covers an area larger than the continent itself.
  • The South Pole experiences a six month period of darkness in winter and a six month period of sunlight in summer.
  • Antarctica is the only continent in the world with no permanent or indigenous human inhabitants. Larger than the United States, the frozen land is populated by approximately 2,500 people during the summer and fewer than 1,000 in the winter


Lesson for grand kids from Antarctica:

Embrace the unknown, you will never know what -40 feels like unless you get out in it. Some will say it is terrible, others like me say it’s exhilarating and makes your body feel alive. Like in the last lesson about others defining your happiness do not let others define your misery.

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Good luck, stay safe and enjoy, but mostly come back home safely so you can enjoy that grandson.

  2. Good luck bud.. Be safe and enjoy!

  3. Good luck, Gary, and we will keep you in our prayers. That’s a darling picture of you and Ford-I assume that is Mallory’s little boy? Brother Dick keeps me updated on what’s going on and he said you were doing another climb. I hope it is everything you hope it will be and that you stay safe. Patty Beard Clinton

  4. Good luck, dad! We are reading your post in my Social Studies class and they might have some questions for you. We’re praying for you!


  5. Hi I´m a student from Mrs. Cherwak´s class hope you make it to the top P.S. I was the kid that tried on your jacket and boot

  6. Hi I’m Camila from Mrs. Cerwak’s class, I want to wish you good luck on your trip. I think it is so cool that you climbed mount everest! When did you decide that you were going to climb all this mountains? Have fun!

  7. I wish you good luck climbing Vinson Massif. I also hope you are able to climb all summits

    P.s. I am from Mrs. Cherwak’s class #7summits

  8. I wish you good luck climbing Vinson Massif. I also hope you are able to climb all summits

    P.s. I am from Mrs. Cherwak’s class

  9. I wish you luck and hope you get to the top the top of the mountain and that the fact that you climbed Mt. Everest was awesome and if you can climb Mt. Everest i know that you can climb this mountain. Oh almost forgot my question are you afraid of heights?

  10. Hi I´m a student from Mrs. Cherwak´s class hope you make it to the top P.S. I´m the kid that tried on your your coat and boot. 🙂

  11. Good luck. I hope you come home safely. Is this one of the harder mountains to climb or is it easier. I will keep you in my prayers.

  12. This is Sam k from Mrs. Cherwak”s class good luck on your trip. Your story is so inspiring. send us some pics.

  13. Hi this is Mckenna from one of the classes you talked your climb to about Mt Everest to. Good luck on your way to the top Vinson Massif ! Find a way to win!

  14. This is Alex Johnson. I am from Mrs. Cherwak’s class. I hope you climb Vincent Massif safely. Plesase come back and share with us what you did. Find a way to win!

  15. This is Ben I’min your daughters lit and social studies class. She is a great teacher. Good luck on the climb, and don’t freeze you’re larynx or whatever it’s called on the way up. I can’t wait until you actually summit all of the seven mountains.

  16. This is Matt from Mrs Cherwak’s class I hope you get to the top of Vinson Massif safely and that you get to achieve your goal of the Seven Summits.

  17. Hi, I am one of Mrs. Cherwak’s students. I wish you luck on your climb. I think what your doing is inspiring. I could never do what you do!

  18. Good Luck on your climb!!!!! 🙂

    P.S. I’m in Mrs. Cherwak’s class.

  19. Hi! I hope that you have a very safe but also a very fun journey! You are extremely inspiring and I could never have as much courage as you. I wish you the best climb and don’t forget to pack hand warmers. P.S. I am from Mrs. Cherwak’s class.

  20. Good luck climbing Vinson Massif.My question is what mountain are you going to climb next?

    P.S. I am from Mrs. Cherwaks class

  21. Hi this a student from Mrs Cherwak’s class I am so inspired abut your story and I wish u the best of luck on your adventure. There are very few people who can and are willing to do this and u are not one of those people and that’s truly amazing.Best of luck and find a way to win.
    #Find a way to win

  22. Hi I”m Cade I’m from Mrs. Cherwak’s class I just want to say if you can climb Mt. Everest you can climb any mountain.I hope you climb them all. Be safe. Always remember to Find A Way To Win

  23. Hi, this is Hannah B. I hope you make it to the top! I have always wanted to see Mt. Everest and I think it is so cool that you got to climb it! I was wondering what is your favorite and least part about climbing mountains? Good Luck! #7summits

  24. Hi Mr. Ervin I am Jacob from Mrs. Cherwak’s class I realy hope you make it to the top of the mountain! Do you know witch mountain you will climb next? Do you have the same stuff you used to climb Everest? P.S. ford has better hair!
    Go climb a mountain!

    – Jacob m.

  25. Godspeed Gary.

  26. Hi this is Katie from Mrs. Cherwak’s class. Good luck climbing Vinson Massif. Also what kind of food do you eat {is the food anything or can you only eat certain food}😊

  27. Hi this is Marla from Mrs Cherwak’s class. I hope you have lots of fun on your journey and adventure! I will keep you in my prayers. Good Luck! I also have a question, is your gear uncomfortable?

  28. I’m from Mrs cherwalks class and I hope you are safe up there I mean down there and I have two questions one how are you not afraid of hights and how is it like being upside down.s

  29. Hi his is Kareena from one of Mrs. Cherwak’s social studies classes. Have you ever thought about doing the 14 highest peaks in the world after you complete the highest 7 on every continent? Have you ever thought about climbing Annapurna, K2 or Lhotse? How hard is Vinson Massif? 5.10?5-11?Hope you have a great time climbing Vinson Massif and find a way to win!!!!!

  30. Hello Mr Ervin, I am a subscriber of your wonderful daughter Mallory! Hearing how you take in these adventures is so exhilarating. May you return safe and sound to see your family ❤️

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