16,067 ft.
Antarctica
 
We board an Ilyushin 76 TD, Russian cargo plane for our 4 hour flight to Patriot Hills. We land on a four and a half mile blue ice runway, which is much like landing on an ice skating rink. We are 600 miles from the South Pole.
 

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Mt.Vinson journal entry: Nov. 21, 2008 <Last Next>
“We are airborne, miles above the vast expanse of pack ice. It is all a bit surreal.  One of the Russian crew says it is alright for me to enter the lower cockpit area of the plane.  What I see moves me to tears.  The huge glass viewing area is like being in a fishbowl. I kneel down on the glass to get a better look.  I cannot speak, but put my hand to my heart and a tear comes to my eye. I am here. I made it. The crewmember, who does not speak English, smiles and nods his head at my reaction to the beauty surrounding me. Everywhere I look there is ice, with all its erratic cracks, like a giant jigsaw puzzle below.  I am in awe.  I return to my seat, with a memory that is forever etched in my mind.”