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The Top of the Bottom: Climb Vinson Massif

Client on a snowy ridge during a guided Vinson Massif Expedition
Esteban Topo Mena and Alex Honnold on the summit of Vinson Massif
Esteban Topo Mena and Alex Honnold on the summit of Vinson Massif.

In the heart of the white expanse of Antarctica lies the Vinson Massif, a formidable challenge on the most desolate continent on the planet and one of the Seven Summits. At 16,050’/4,892m, Vinson is the shortest but arguably one of the most memorable of the world’s coveted peaks. While altitude is not as much of a problem, however, the harsh and unforgiving conditions of the southernmost place on the planet present a unique array of challenges for hopeful climbers.

Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, the journey begins with a flight to the icy continent and setting up our basecamp on the Branscomb glacier. From there, we’ll spend two days acclimatizing and prepping to make our first push up the mountain.

Navigating through semi-technical terrain and enduring temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F), we’ll make a push over relatively easygoing slopes to Low Camp and make our first gear drop. After that, we’ll spend a day hiking up to the fixed lines before making our way to High Camp. Along the way, they are treated to stunning views of the surrounding Antarctic landscape, including vast ice fields and towering peaks.

At High Camp (12,400/3,780m), we’ll rest before making our summit bid the next day. Standing at an elevation of over 16,000 feet, participants experience a sense of triumph and awe as they gaze out upon the frozen wilderness below. It’s a moment that truly encapsulates the spirit of exploration.

After a short celebration atop the summit, we’ll descend the Eastern Ridge back down to the summit valley and to High Camp. The day will see us climb 3,648’/1,112m over a distance of 6 miles, and will typically take us 9-12 hours. Over the next few days, we’ll return to the Union Glacier before flying back to Chile and eventually home.

Interested to join us on Vinson Massif? We’re stoked to be returning to this unique and special mountain in 2024, give us a call to chat about joining our team.