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Vinson Massif Expedition

A climber ascending Vinson Massif
A climber ascending Vinson Massif.

Vinson Massif Expedition

Intermediate 15 Days Antarctica
This unique expedition offers an incredible adventure to the remote interior of the frozen continent to climb the tallest peak in Antarctica and one of the storied Seven Summits.
Esteban Topo Mena and Alex Honnold on the summit of Vinson Massif
Climber on a guided Vinson Massif Expedition

Towering above the Antarctic Plain at 16,067’/4,897m, Mount Vinson is the tallest peak in Antarctica and the most remote of the Seven Summits.

For many, an Antarctic expedition to Vinson is one of the most memorable experiences in their mountaineering careers. Climbing in Antarctica is nothing short of an adventure, combining an incredible mountain, challenging conditions, and an unshakeable feeling of exploration as you venture into the most desolate continent on Planet Earth.

Fitness

Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

Technical Experience

Vinson requires proficiency in basic mountaineering skills such as: Cramponing, walking on snow, crevasse rescue, self-arrest, glacier travel and rope skills, and winter camping experience. It is also important for clients to have experience carrying a heavy pack on glaciated terrain.

Climbers should have experience climbing on several glaciated peaks prior to Vinson, and show an aptitude for dealing with difficult conditions and extreme cold.

Vinson is a challenging peak, the more experience you bring to the mountain, the better. All climbers will be screened by our team to ensure that we are building a strong and qualified team.

Altitude

While altitude experience is not required, having prior experience at altitude is certainly helpful.
Vinson Massif
Client on a snowy ridge during a guided Vinson Massif Expedition
Day 0
Arrive

Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Activity: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile
Sleeping Elevation: 112’/34m
Lodging: Hotel TBD
Meals: None

Day 1
Gear Prep

We’ll spend the day prepping gear as we get squared away to fly to Antarctica. After an expedition brief and re-checking our gear, we’ll be ready to depart the following morning.

Activity: Gear Prep/Expedition Brief
Sleeping Elevation: 112’/34m
Lodging: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 2
Fly to Union Glacier

Weather permitting, today we’ll be flying to Antarctica. A 4.5 hr flight will see us cross the Drake Passage before following the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula to the Union Glacier where a blue-ice runway will serve as our landing strip on the southernmost continent on the planet.

Activity: Fly to Union Glacier
Elevation Gain/Loss: +2,200’/671m
Sleeping Elevation: 2,300’/701m
Lodging: Union Glacier Camp
Meals: Breakfast

Days 3-4
Fly to Base Camp

A short flight from the Union Glacier camp will see us arrive at the Vinson Base Camp situated on the Branscomb Glacier. The Vinson Base Camp is a remarkable setting that gives us our first look at the mountain that we will be questing up. After arriving at base camp we’ll make a short acclimatization hike to help us get acquainted with the Antarctic environment. The following day we’ll pack and prepare our gear to start our push to the summit of Mount Vinson.

Activity: Fly to Vinson Base Camp
Distance Covered: Varies
Moving Hours: Varies
Elevation Gain/Loss: +4,700’/1,433
Sleeping Elevation: 7,021’/2,130m
Lodging: Base Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5
Climb to Low Camp

Today marks the beginning of our journey to the summit, as we leave base camp for Low Camp. Sitting at 9,121’/2,780m, it will take us 4-6 hours to reach Low Camp. The climb today will see us cover a gentle snow slope as we carry roughly 50lbs loads between our packs and sleds. We’ll be traveling in rope teams throughout our climb due to crevasse hazard, and this day will help get us into the swing of glacier travel.

Activity: Climb to Low Camp
Distance Covered: 3.5 miles
Moving Hours: 4-6 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +2,100’/640m
Sleeping Elevation: 9,121’/2,780m
Lodging: Low Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6
Acclimatization Hike + Skills Work

After our climb to Low Camp, we’ll spend the day making another short acclimatization hike to the lower section of the fixed lines to do some skills work and familiarization before we continue onto the upper mountain. If the team is strong and stoked, we might make an ascent of Knutzen Peak, an 11,066’/3,373m sub-peak that takes 5-6 hours round trip.

Activity: Acclimatization Hike
Distance Covered: Varies
Moving Hours: Varies
Elevation Gain/Loss: Varies
Sleeping Elevation: 9,121’/2,780m
Lodging: Low Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7
Climb to High Camp

Weather permitting, we’ll leave our sleds behind at Low Camp and start working our way towards the upper mountain with the remainder of our gear on our backs. The climb between Low and High Camp is long and difficult, climbing 3,200’/1,000m of elevation gain over a 6-8 hour period. The climb to High Camp (12,402’/3,780m) will see us ascend fixed ropes on steep snow slopes up to 45 degrees before finishing the ascent on the gradual slopes of the summit glacier.

Activity: Climb to High Camp
Distance Covered: 4 miles
Moving Hours: 6-8 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +3,200’/1,000m
Sleeping Elevation: 12,400’/3,780m
Lodging: High Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8
Acclimatize and Rest

We’ll spend the day acclimatizing and resting as we prepare for our summit bid.

Activity: Acclimatize & Rest
Sleeping Elevation: 12,400’/3,780m
Lodging: High Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 9
Summit Bid

Today we’ll make our bid for the summit of the tallest peak in Antarctica. An alpine start will see us start up the Vinson summit valley, working our way up the gradual slopes towards the summit pyramid. After a short and steep snow/ice section, we’ll find ourselves on the exposed Western Ridge that will take us to the summit of Vinson. Standing on the summit, we’ll be greeted with incredible views of Mount Gardner, Epperly, Shinn, and Tyree. Gazing down upon the white, frozen landscape of Antarctica, the magnificence and remoteness of the summit will settle in. You’re standing on the highest point on the world’s most desolate continent—if you were looking for an adventure, you found it.

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.

Activity: Summit Bid
Distance Covered: 6 miles
Moving Hours: 9-12 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-3,648’/1,112m
Sleeping Elevation: 12,400’/3,780m
Lodging: High Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 10
Descend to Base Camp

Today we’ll retrace our steps and descend to the Vinson Massif Base Camp.

Activity: Descend to Base Camp
Distance Covered: 7 miles
Moving Hours: 4-6 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: -5,400’/1,646m
Sleeping Elevation: 7,021’/2,140m
Lodging: Base Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Days 11-12
Extra Days

Extra days to use for weather delays, acclimatization, etc.

Day 13
Fly to Union Glacier

After a successful summit of the Vinson Massif, we’ll take a ski-plane back to the Union Glacier Camp.

Activity: Fly to Union Glacier
Sleeping Elevation: 2,300’/701m
Lodging: Union Glacier Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 14
Return to Chile

Weather permitting, we’ll once again fly across the Drake Passage on our way back to Chile, marking the end of our Antarctic adventure.

Activity: Fly to Punta Arenas
Sleeping Elevation: 112’/34m
Lodging: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15
Fly Home

Vinson Massif Guides

Meet some of the guides who you might be climbing Vinson Massif with.

Vinson Massif Questions

Everything you need to know about climbing in Antarctica
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