Mount Vinson: 16,067 feet
The highest peak in Antarctica lies within the Ellsworth mountain range a mere 600 miles from the South Pole. The icy continent is a landscape of extremes, with night-time low temperatures often reaching negative 40F and a summertime sun that never sets. Antarctica is one of the last truly wild places on earth, and climbers who venture to “The Ice” will leave with a feeling that they were just part of something very, very special.
Our Vinson climbing team meets at the southern tip of Chile in the bustling port town of Punta Arenas. We will spend two days checking equipment and weighing our collective gear and supplies in preparation for the 6 hour flight to The Ice. Flying to Antarctica aboard a Russian Ilyushin IL-76 cargo jet and landing on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier is an experience you will never forget. From the Union Glacier we board a Twin Otter on skis for the flight to Vinson Base Camp. It takes an impressive amount of logistical support to get people and gear to the bottom of the world.
The route up Mt Vinson involves glacier travel and moderately steep snow climbing. We generally put in two camps above base camp before going for the top. The summit ridge provides some interesting climbing as you wind through rocks, ice and snow on your way to the top of Antarctica. The views from the summit on a clear day are breathtaking, as you gaze across an ocean of ice which extends all the way to the horizon.
Vinson climbers should prepare themselves physically to be able to carry moderately heavy loads over the course of 6-8 hour days. Antarctica is a very cold place and proper equipment is essential. Our Vinson expedition guides are very adept in taking care of climbers in Arctic and Antarctic conditions; however, climbers must ultimately be familiar with how to look after themselves in a very cold environment.