Vinson Pre Trip Information #1

Vinson Massif, Antarctica
16,051 ft/4897 meters

Greetings from Mountain Trip,

We are really looking forward to your upcoming expedition to Antarctica.  Hopefully, you are feeling good about your preparations and your training.  This is a challenging climb, and the better you prepare yourself physically, the more you will enjoy the spectacular, otherworldly environment of the highest peak on the planet’s least-inhabited continent.

Most outdoor clothing and equipment companies have their fall/winter lines available.  If your still need to pick up some warm layers, we recommend that you don’t wait too long, as their stock can diminish quickly.

In this email, we would like to introduce you to your guide and give you a few more thoughts and hints as you prepare for this trip of a lifetime!

Again, don’t hesitate to give us a call or email with any last minute questions.  We want you to be ultimately prepared, so please use us as a resource!

We meet in the historic port city of Punta Arenas, Chile.  Punta Arenas lies on the southern tip of Chile and is the launching point for many Antarctic adventures.   It is a bustling port along the busy shipping passages of the Strait of Magellan and has a real colonial feel.

Upon arrival in Chile, you will collect your bags and pass through Chilean Customs.  Your bags should be checked all the way to Punta Arenas, but you do need to collect and recheck them in Santiago. After passing through customs you will re-check your bags for the flight to Punta Arenas and proceed to the appropriate gate for your flight.

We have travel itineraries for most of you already, but if you haven’t sent us your flight information, or if anything changes, please forward it to [email protected]. When you arrive in Punta Arenas, hop in a cab and head for the hotel.   It is 20-30 minutes to the hotel from the airport.

**DO NOT BRING ANY MEAT PRODUCTS INTO CHILE! They will find them and fine you heavily.

We recommend that you carry your mountain boots in your carry on luggage.  If your luggage doesn’t make it to Punta Arenas, you can replace most of your kit from local shops, but good mountaineering boots are very difficult to find.

If you have any travel delays on your way, please email us at [email protected] so we know when to expect you to arrive.

We are hosting you at the Dreams Hotel in Punta Arenas.  It’s a beautiful hotel located on the waterfront overlooking the Straits of Magellan. It has spacious, comfortable rooms and they serve a complimentary breakfast each morning. We hope not to spend too many days enjoying the hotel, but remember that flight delays to-and-from Antarctica are common.

Reminder: Your expedition fee provides lodging for the three nights before our scheduled flight to Antarctica. We will also provide one night in Punta Arenas after returning to Chile.  As we don’t know for certain when that will be, we cannot say for certain where we will find rooms, but we will try for the Dreams Hotel.

If you arrive early, or if there are delays, you will be responsible for your lodging. As always, we are happy to assist you with making lodging reservations.  We would like to invite everyone out for a nice welcome dinner before the trip, but please be aware that the rest of your meals in Punta Arenas are your responsibility.

We have reserved shared rooms for all expedition members.  If you would like a single room, please let us know right away.  We will check availability and let you know the fee for the “Single Room Supplement”.

Dreams Hotel, Punta Arenas:
O’Higgins 1235
Tel. (61) 204500


Money in Chile:
We recommend that you travel with at least $500 USD in cash to Chile.  Credit Cards are accepted at the major hotels and restaurants, but not as widely accepted at smaller shops.   ATM/Cash Machines are readily available and work quite well for most foreign travelers, but check with your bank network.  You can exchange foreign currency at local banks or “Cambios”.  Climbers often bring cash for the tips for their guides, but you can arrange payment when you return home as well.

The current exchange rate for US dollars:
1 Dollar = 750 Chilean Pesos

Satellite Phone:  We bring an Iridium Satellite phone and we will call in daily expedition dispatches while we are in Antarctica.  We also check in daily with the ALE base camp.

When it is available, you are welcome to use our sat phone to call home or to check in with the office for $3/minute.

It is possible (but frustrating and expensive) to change flights via the sat phone, but it’s an even better idea to leave your travel itinerary with someone at home, in the event that you need to make any changes to your travel plan from The Ice.

Make certain that whoever will make changes to your flight has all of your flight information, including your Confirmation Number, Record Locator, eTicket Number, your birth date, and even your Frequent Flyer Number.  The easier it is for airline personnel to make the changes, the sooner they can snatch up that lost seat on tomorrow’s flight home!

We know some of you have your own Iridium phones, and you are welcome to bring them along, or just bring your Sim Card and borrow our phone.  Iridium is the only brand that works at such southern latitudes.

Solar Charging:  We bring a solar panel to recharge our Sat Phone and other electronics, and you are welcome to borrow the solar charger, but there can often be a bit of a line up.   If you have your own panel, or a small solar charger, it’s worth bringing to base camp.   You need a 12V car lighter adapter or a USB charger to plug into the solar panel.

At Mountain Trip, we really pride ourselves on providing great food for all of our expeditions.  Food is important to keep you warm, get you fueled up, and help you remain motivated when you are on a longer expedition.  It can really make a difference when meals are something to look forward to.

Basically, the food we bring is a choice, and we choose to eat well!

cook tent on Vinson

If you have any food allergies, or strong preferences or dislikes, please let us know so we can better take care of you.  You will find that we stress communication in future emails, so let’s start the food dialogue as well.

At the big Union Glacier Camp, where we land after our flight from Chile, ALE will provide the meals for us.  They typically do a great job of keeping the entire camp fat and happy!

As always, it is a good idea to bring along some of your favorites for an expedition.  If you prefer a specific bar, gel, or drink mix while climbing, bring some along.   If there is a favorite tea, hot drink, or locally roasted coffee that you really enjoy–bring some of that, as well.

We will have plenty of food, snacks, coffee, tea, drink mixes, etc., but it’s nice to have some of your favorite to add to the variety.   Don’t feel like you HAVE to bring anything.  We have just found that people often benefit from having some amount of their personal comfort food with them.

Thanks for choosing Mountain Trip for your adventure to Antarctica and have fun getting ready!


Warm Regards,

The Mountain Trip crew

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