January 6 – January 19, 2020
Sprawling over an 8-mile wide and 13-mile long massif, Mt. Vinson stands as the highest peak in Antarctica just 750 miles from the South Pole. Of the Seven Summits, Vinson Massif was the last to be discovered, the last to be named, and the last to be climbed. The austral summer offers a unique experience as alpinists wake, climb, and sleep, all throughout 24 hours of daylight. In 1966 an expedition with climbers from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation followed Nicholas Clinch to Vinson’s first summit.
We will follow the standard route to the summit via the Branscomb Shoulder. Some sections can be steep and require the use of fixed ropes. Once we gain the upper glacier we will travel on gentler slopes before reaching the summit ridge. Due to the cold temperatures and frequent high winds, we will wait for good weather before attempting to summit. From the top of Antarctica, we will be able to see across the expansive continent.
Day 1 • Arrive Punta Arenas, Chile
Day 2 • Orientation
Day 3 • Flight to Union Glacier
Day 4 • Vinson Basecamp • 6,900 ft
Day 5 • Carry to Low Camp • 9,000 ft
Day 6 • Move to Low Camp
Day 7 • Rest Day
Day 8 • Carry to High Camp 12,400 ft
Day 9 • Move to High Camp
Day 10 • Mount Vinson • 16,050 ft
Day 11 • Alternate Summit Day
Day 12 • Descend to Basecamp
Day 13 • Depart Union Glacier • Antarctica
Day 14 • Depart Punta Arenas, Chile
Day 15 • Extra Weather Day
Day 16 • Extra Weather Day
Day 17 • Extra Weather Day
Expedition begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile
Arrive Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport, Punta Arenas (PUQ). We allot an extra day to recover from jet lag and wait for any baggage that may have been waylaid.
After a group introduction we will launch into an in-depth gear check. We will then view continent specific regulations and overviews. This will be a combination of lectures and slide shows. Due to the remote nature of this trip we will review Leave No Trace principals. Our gear will also be weighed for our flight to Union Glacier. (D)
We will be on call for a flight to Union Glacier on the Antarctic continent. All luggage and gear that is not needed on the climb will be left at our hotel in Punta Arenas. Due to the weather patterns we will wait for the perfect window to fly. After arriving at Union Glacier, we will then transfer to a smaller aircraft and be flown to Vinson Basecamp, weather permitting. (B, D)
We will settle into basecamp, rest and recover following our journey here. Gear will be sorted and packed onto sleds for our move to Low Camp tomorrow. (B, L, D)
We ascend the low angle Branscomb Glacier to camp, pulling our gear and equipment on sleds to help lessen pack weight. This day we will be roped together to help prevent crevasse falls on glacier. Depending on the group, weather, or conditions we may choose to cache our gear and descend or camp. (B, D)
This extra day is built in to help accommodate the needs of the group. If we cached equipment the following day we will re-ascend to Low Camp and spend the night, there. Conversely, if we camped at Low Camp yesterday we will acclimatize. (B, D)
If time and weather allow we will take a rest day here. We will do a day hike on glacier to help acclimatize. (B, L, D)
We will carry a load of equipment to High Camp. This route utilizes fixed lines on a 35/40-degree slope. High winds can make this area very cold even during daylight hours. (B, D)
We follow our tracks from the previous day, carrying lighter loads to High Camp. After an early dinner and summit talk we turn in for the night. (B, D)
Again, depending on weather we will try and summit today. The route itself follows a valley glacier to the summit ridge. A short steeper section leads to the summit. From here we will have a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. Temperatures can range anywhere from -30 to 0 degrees on our 9-12-hour ascent. After summiting we return to High Camp for some much-needed hot drinks. (B, D)
This is a dedicated alternate summit day. If we have summited on Day 11 we will start our descent back to Basecamp. (B, D)
After packing up our camp we will descend the fixed lines down to Low Camp. Here we will load the remaining gear and equipment in our sleds and make our way down to Basecamp. (B, D)
Transfer from Union Glacier back to Punta Arenas, Chile. Here we will have a celebratory dinner and say our farewells. (B, D)
Transfer to airport for flights home.
These extra days are put aside for any unforeseeable weather or conditions on the upper mountain, as well as flight delays in Vinson Basecamp. While waiting for our flight to Union Glacier we will have time to tell stories and remanence about the climb. (B, D)
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner
$5,000.00 deposit includes reservation fee, due with application.
Balance due 120 days prior to departure
A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.
Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.
Begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile
A valid passport is required for American citizens to enter Chile. American citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism.
Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Chile
Flight Travel Information:
Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport (PUQ), Punta Arenas, Chile
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the countries destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.
Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.
A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.
Climbing Grade: Advanced
As the highest point on the continent of Antarctica, Mount Vinson experiences some of the coldest and windiest weather on the planet. Expedition self-care and experience is key to success on this peak. Be prepared to carry packs up to 50 lbs. while pulling sleds up to 100 lbs. Experience with fixed lines is ideal.
Prior to the expedition we recommend taking at minimum a mountaineering course and climbing other high-altitude peaks.
Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting Mount Vinson.
Though this peak is not as technical as some others, it is important that climbers have done trips in places like Alaska or similar big mountain areas. Experience roped on glacier is paramount. Technical skills like fixed line use are required. Also, be aware that due to the harsh, cold environment on the Antarctic continent, it is imperative that climbers have a high level of self-care and self-sufficient.
Be prepared to carry at least 55lbs, as well as pulling a sled on the lower glaciers.
If you arrive early we are happy to book extra nights at the hotel. If the trip finishes earlier or later than expected be prepared by purchasing travel insurance or a flexible return ticket.
If you plan on purchasing non-scheduled services bring between $750 – $1000 USD in cash. Remember, gratuities for guide and camp staff are not included. It is customary to tip guides 10% of the trip cost.