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Non-Stop Wind
Sunday, December 19, 1999

Stephen Koch
The Team's Call from Antarctica
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Hello, Mountain Zone. This is Stephen Koch with the Antarctica '99 Ski and Snowboard Expedition, calling from Patriot Hills, Antarctica. Right now we are finally having a respite from the wind, just the last half hour or so. Before that it's been blowing consistently 40 knots, especially at the runway, which we've been plowing ourselves and pretty much the whole crew here at Patriot Hills to try and get clear, so the Herc can fly in and take us to Punta Arenas. So we can make our way back home, hopefully for Christmas, to see our loved ones and friends and family and everyone.

Boy, it sure is beautiful; it's kind of similar — eerily so — to the way it was when I called a week ago myself. A lot has gone on in this last week, we've had storms with 100mph winds and whatnot, but right now it's pretty clear and calm right here in camp. I see wind blowing off the ridges of Patriot Hills and there's a thin layer of clouds out with some blue. But, boy, the wind has just been non-stop; it's been continually burying our tents. In order to get out of them, we have to put on full gear and unzip them and burrow out, first with our head, and then crawl out. Once we get out, we shovel out the entrance and unzip it for the next person. But that is hopefully the end of that because if all goes well, we can get out of here tomorrow evening. But it's real hit or miss. It's just kind of what's in the destiny for us to stay or go. We would all love to go; we're all ready to go.

Hanging out here is getting a little difficult because there's not a lot to do; yet there's tons to do. It just depends on how motivated you are and what your schedule is. My personal sleep schedule has been staying up all night and sleeping during the day because the sun never sets, so it doesn't really matter. I've been trying to work out a little bit doing some pull-ups and push-ups and sit-ups and that sort of thing. But besides that — oh, the winds picking up just a little bit, I don't know if you can hear that. Besides that getting out and doing an occasional ski and snowboard runs on the Patriot Hills. Doug and Mark, Doug Coombs, Mark Newcomb, and Dirk Collins went out today earlier and did a little filming. That's pretty much been about it from here…[transmission fails].

Hello, Mountain Zone this is Stephen Koch calling back. I hear that the other groups on Vinson were successful, except for one person. So that's great news and the avalanche danger was a lot less than Dave Hahn had initially anticipated after the winds picked up, after the big storm that we had when we were there. But anyway, there's the three groups waiting to go to Queen Maud Land and there's a number of groups, including the [Unintelligible] and us, and the Brits and the Greeks waiting to head back so we can be home for Christmas.

Anyway, I think that is about it from here. Thanks all for checking in with us and we're hoping to be home soon, but you never we know. We could be easily spending Christmas here, if it's meant to be. You know, we just got to kind of go with the way the storms are happening and what's going on with that. In the meantime, we're going to be shoveling out a lot of snow on our tents. Ciao for now, over and out. This is Stephen Koch with the Antarctica '99 Ski and Snowboard Expedition, later.

— Stephan Koch, Correspondent


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