By Michelle Osmond |
Dec. 6, 2011
Dr. TA Loeffler loves maps. A map of Antarctica arrived in her mailbox recently and it didn’t take long before the corners of the folds started to tear because she’d opened and closed the map so often.
"The map enthralls me," she said. "It really does. Engaging with the map is a critical part of any climbing experience for me because that engagement lays a foundation of knowledge, space awareness and boundaries on which the adventure is built."
Dr. Loeffler, a professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, ordered the map to prepare for her latest climb to Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. She left for Puenta Arenas, Chile, Dec. 6 to meet her teammates and prepare for the flight to Antarctica.
Vinson Massif is 21 kilometres long and 13 kilometres wide and is the most remote of the Seven Summits. Vinson is 4,897 metres high (16,076 feet) but its summit will feel 1,000 metres higher than it actually is because of the thinning of the earth’s atmosphere near the poles. It is located 1,000 kilometres from the South Pole.
During the climb, Dr. Loeffler and her team will have 24 hours of daylight and an average temperature of -27 C (temperatures on the summit can be as low as -50 C). The team’s projected summit date is Saturday, Dec. 10, but there can be potential delays such as weather and flight difficulties.
"This expedition to Vinson Massif has been five years in the making because of the enormous logistical and financial hurdles," explained Dr. Loeffler. "I look forward to climbing in one of the most remote locations on Earth and bringing the lessons I learn back to my students here at Memorial as well as youth throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador."
Dr. Loeffler is an adventurer, author and a professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. After climbing Mount McKinley in 2005, she set a goal of climbing Mount Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Vinson Massif will be her sixth. Throughout her Seven Summits journey, Dr. Loeffler has aimed to inspire others to have big dreams and big goals by sharing her adventures online, in her book, in schools and through keynote speaking. She has presented her message of Big Dreams, Big Goals to over 27,000 youth in the province.
"I often appreciate how my colleagues in the School of Music are able to give a public performance as a way of sharing their academic prowess and musical gifts with both the university and wider communities," noted Dr. Loeffler. "I see my climbing expeditions in somewhat the same way. As an outdoor educator, expeditions are a vehicle for both honing my skills and demonstrating/performing my competence as an outdoor leader and educator."