On January 1, 2022, Utah mom of seven Jenn Drummond became the first U.S. woman and second woman ever to summit Antarctica’s Mt. Tyree, putting her one step closer to becoming the first woman to climb all of the seven Second Summits—the second-highest mountains on each of the seven continents.
While the Antarctica expedition was a huge victory for Drummond, it was much more than just a mountaineering adventure. It also became a powerful lesson about embracing patience and stillness in everyday life.
Christmas Is a Feeling
When planning her Mt. Tyree summit adventure, Drummond realized that she would be away from her family for Christmas and New Year’s. Before booking the trip, she explained to her children that her adventure would overlap an important time of year and asked how they felt about it. One of Drummond’s kids commented, “Mom, you always told us Christmas is just a feeling.” So, before Drummond’s travels began, her family took the time to enjoy her twin girls’ birthdays and an early Christmas holiday.
Traveling with Patience
Traveling in general can be challenging, especially when traveling internationally. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel has taken on new requirements from country to country. For Drummond, there were more special requirements and protocols to follow on this trip to the southernmost part of the world. According to Drummond, “All the places I have traveled have required the COVID test within 72 hours of boarding the first leg of an itinerary. Also, Chile has a mobility passport component that must be filled out within 48 hours of landing in Chile.”
Although the travel itinerary through multiple airports and multiple countries was difficult, Drummond was still grateful to be able to have the trip still happen with ever-changing travel requirements. She expressed that while lengthy, the journey to Punta Arenas, Chile, was the first of several exercises in “embracing patience while waiting.”
Embracing New Cultures Through Travel
Once Drummond arrived in Punta Arenas, she made sure to take time to soak up the area’s culture. Enjoying the culture was essential to Drummond, given she would be spending a few days in the town before catching her flight to Antarctica. She believes that embracing and participating in the local culture allows her to better connect to the area and support the locals during her travels. Drummond believes that this practice reminds us to be grateful for what we have while learning to reconnect with the more our world has to offer. “Traveling simply has a way of opening up so much possibility of learning new cultures, new ways to do life, and it allows us to experience other parts of our planet,” she explains.
In addition to embracing the local culture of Punta Arenas, the time before continuing to Antarctica allowed Drummond’s body to adapt to the southern hemisphere.
“The long days were a challenge to adapt to, given that it’s only dark for around five to six hours at night,” says Drummond. “And the longer days translated to later dinners since the restaurants didn’t start serving dinner until around 8 p.m. It was all preparing me and my body for my time in Antarctica.”
Waiting Out the Weather
Aside from the challenges of traveling during Covid and even just getting to Antarctica, Drummond also had to experience the need to wait out the weather. Most Antarctica experts often recommend that the best time of year to visit the continent is in December and January. This is partly due to the warmer daily temperatures (around the average of 29 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit), calmer seas, and more manageable weather. However, even in the best weather for the area, the land of ice is still prone to wind and occasional winter storms and blizzards.
Drummond first experienced this when waiting for her flight from the southernmost tip of Chile to Antarctica. She had a layover in Chile for about five days before she could catch her flight from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier, Antarctica. From there, Drummond had to wait out the weather for a few more days to move from the Union Glacier base camp up to the Mount Vinson base camp on December 21, 2021.
“From there, it became a matter of seeing how the weather would be as a matter of when we could summit the mountains here,” Drummond explains.
Summiting Through the Holidays
Drummond summited Mt. Vinson on December 26, 2021. Mount Vinson is the highest summit on Antarctica and part of the seven tallest summits in the world. “I was so grateful to make this trip happen and to be in a place in our world that I felt I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity to summit Mount Vinson as well,” she explains.
Drummond says that summiting a nearby mountain before the main summit for the trip is ideal for assisting with acclimating to the mountain more efficiently.
“I could feel the lack of oxygen in the air, so the goal was that the climb on Vinson would be absorbed in my body, and I would have a better time and acclimation for my climb on Mount Tyree,” she says.
As 2021 ended and 2022 began, Drummond and her team of four guides began the summit up Mt. Tyree. After a long 18 hours from New Year’s Eve into New Years Day, Jenn Drummond became the first American woman and second woman ever to reach the summit of Mt. Tyree in Antarctica.
“It was about 5,300 feet of climbing, and we climbed 21 pitches total to reach the summit,” says Drummond. “It was forecast to be -34 c, yet the sun was out a lot during the climb, so it didn’t feel that cold the whole time. While the ridge was sharp and steep, the views were endless in all directions. It was also fun to see Mount Vinson during the summit of Tyree as well.”
A Lesson in Patience
After the official summit and descent from Mt. Tyree, Drummond was once again at the mercy of the weather, which determined when she could finally begin her journey home. Drummond and the group were able to fly back to Union Glacier on on January 4, 2022. But the group had to remain at that camp until the next flight available back to Chile was available. Drummond received the news that the plane’s flight crew that flies between Antarctica and Punta Arenas had tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, flights are at a standstill until the crew could return from quarantine.
“We were still stuck at Union Glacier for about six days with the crew in quarantine,” says Drummond. “However, ‘stuck’ is all a matter of viewpoint. I saw it as still getting to experience Antarctica and all its glory. We took the time to connect by playing board games, going on hikes, and enjoying the time the best we could. It was the ultimate test in patience, waiting for the flight to come and the travel back to Utah.”
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