Mount Vinson

Land Based Trips
Land-Based
Fly to South Pole to see Emperor Penguins

Challenge yourself on a mountain set apart by the scale, isolation and pristine beauty of Antarctica

Imagine yourself on the summit of Mount Vinson, at 16,050 ft (4892m) the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the coveted Seven Summits. Before you the world falls away pristine and untrammelled. Majestic, snow-covered peaks stand guard over vast glaciers below and, in the distance, snow meets sky along a noticeably curved horizon.

To climb Mount Vinson is to challenge yourself on a mountain like no other and to stand atop Antarctica, the least explored continent on Earth. We ascend the Standard Route climbing gentle glaciers, 45° snow slopes, an exposed high plateau and spectacular summit ridge. The rate of ascent and daily climbing plan set by your experienced mountain guide will be geared toward the safety and success of your climb. At the summit the fierce winds, biting cold, storms and delays provide a backdrop that only highlights the vast beauty before you and the sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving the extraordinary.

Mount Vinson lies in the aptly named Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, deep in the interior of Antarctica. It was first summitted on 18 December 1966 and for many years did not see a second ascent due to the logistical challenges of access. In 1985 we put logistics in place to support a private expedition to Mount Vinson, opening the door to private travel in the interior of Antarctica. More than 25 years later, Mount Vinson is still one of our most popular Experiences!

Accommodations

Vinson Base Camp
Vinson climbers will continue on to our cozy Vinson Base Camp on the Branscomb Glacier. Fresh-cooked meals are served in a heated dining tent, where you can also relax and enjoy conversation or a game of cards. You sleep in mountaineering tents nearby.

Union Glacier Camp
The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at our main Antarctic camp at Union Glacier. You’ll find roomy, double occupancy sleeping tents; a spacious dining hall; fresh delicious meals; and a spectacular setting. You’ll be surprised how comfortable Antarctica can be! Our full-service camp is designed for Antarctic conditions and with best environmental practices in mind. It operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season.

Field Camps
Our Emperor Penguin, ski expedition, climbing and other field camps are more basic. Equipment must be lightweight and portable, yet still strong enough to withstand Antarctic conditions. We sleep in mountaineering-style tents and eat a combination of fresh-frozen meals, prepared by our chefs at Union Glacier; and de-hydrated meals.

Extremely Strenuous

Extremely strenuous trips include skiing and climbing expeditions in the most remote corners of Antarctica, where physiological altitude may exceed 11,000 feet (3350m) for many days in a row, and temperatures may drop below (–40°F / –40°C), with severe wind chill and storms. You will be active for 8-12 hours a day carrying or hauling heavy loads for many days in a row. You must have the physical ability to cover a minimum daily distance and the mental stamina to continue in extreme conditions when you are physically tired. Technical skill, a high level of strength and aerobic fitness, and commitment to a dedicated pre-trip training program are required.

Day 1: Fly to Antarctica

Depart Punta Arenas Chile. Fly 4 ¼ hrs to Antarctica by private transport jet. Transfer to ski aircraft and continue to Vinson Base Camp at 6,900 ft (2100m) on the Branscomb Glacier.

The Climb

We will ascend Vinson using the “standard route”. This usually takes from 5-9 days depending on weather conditions and how quickly team members acclimatize. Most groups set two intermediate camps on the mountain prior to attempting the summit. Our rate of ascent and daily climbing plan will be set by our guide to reflect mountain realities and group strengths and will be geared toward the safety and success of our climb. Our climb will be a team effort with each person carrying his or her own personal equipment as well as a share of group gear, food and fuel. At the end of each day, team members will help pitch camp.

Day 2: Acclimatization and Preparations

This is a day to relax and recover after several days of travel. In the quiet surroundings of Vinson Base Camp we can appreciate the beauty of Antarctica while preparing for our climb. We will load our sleds for the days ahead and, if time allows, we will take a short hike to gain familiarity with the Antarctic environment and to refine our clothing and equipment choices for the climb.

Day 3-4: Vinson Base Camp to Low Camp

2,150 ft (650 m) of elevation gain, 5 1/2 miles (9 km) of distance, 4-6 hours travel

From Vinson Base Camp to Low Camp we follow the gradual rise of the Branscomb Glacier. The gentle climb is ideal for pulling sleds allowing us to lighten the loads in our packs. Due to crevasse hazard, we will travel roped together today and throughout our time on the mountain. At Low Camp (elevation 9000 ft/2750 m) the guides build a cooking/dining shelter for our group. Depending on conditions, we may overnight here or cache equipment and return to Vinson Base Camp. The following day we will re-ascend from Vinson Base Camp, acclimatize at Low Camp, or continue our climb up the mountain.

Day 5-7: Low to High Camp

3,350 ft (1020 m) of elevation gain, fixed ropes on slopes up to 45°, approximately 6-8 hours travel

We ascend to High Camp (12,400 ft/3770 m) when conditions are suitable and the forecast indicates stable weather ahead. We may carry all of our equipment in one push, or we may choose a ‘load carry’, overnighting back at Low Camp and re-ascending the next day with lighter loads. These choices will depend on weather and group fitness.

Our route takes us up the broad mixed spur at the northern end of the Branscomb Ridge, offering fantastic views of Mount Shinn and the glaciers below. We ascend fixed ropes on snow slopes up to 35/40°. Snow conditions can vary from soft to hard and windblown with icy patches. From the top of the fixed lines to High Camp takes about 1 1/2 hours, ascending the gentle snow slopes of the summit glacier. This section of the route can be very exposed to the wind, requiring care to prevent cold injury.

The facilities at High Camp are more basic than at camps below. We cook and eat simple, dehydrated meals in our tents, or outside if the weather is calm. Our next day is normally spent resting and acclimatizing at High Camp to give everyone the best chance of summiting.

Day 8-10: High Camp to Vinson Summit

Return trip from High Camp — 3670 ft (1120 m) elevation gain, 9 miles (14 km) distance, 9-12 hours travel

We make our summit attempt on the best weather day possible as the route is exposed and subject to high winds. The majority of the route is along the Vinson summit valley, with a short, steeper snow and ice slope leading to the spectacular, rocky, summit ridge. The views from the summit are breathtaking.  Mount Gardner, Tyree, Epperly and Shinn dominate the foreground, surrounded by impressive peaks that rise from the vast ice sheet below. Here, at the top of Antarctica, the true scale and majesty of the continent are overwhelmingly apparent. We will take time to savor the experience and take photos, before retracing our steps to High Camp.

Day 11: Descent to Vinson Base Camp

The descent to Vinson Base Camp is usually achieved in one day from High Camp, re-tracing our route down the fixed ropes and along the Branscomb Glacier. At Vinson Base Camp we celebrate our summit with a hearty meal and a toast to our team.

Day 12: Return to Main Camp

Return to Union Glacier by ski aircraft. At Union Glacier Camp you will enjoy meals prepared by our professional chefs served in our dining tent. There will be opportunities to meet and trade stories with other adventurers and, if conditions allow, to climb and explore the scenic peaks nearby camp.

Please Note:

No two Antarctic experiences are exactly the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure.

Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Only show rates under
$ X
Use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to adjust price.
Per Person USD
Rates 2014-2015
Price (US$)
Camp
$68,500
 
Camp
Contact for Details
 
Camp
$68,500
 
Camp
$40,700
 
Camp, XC Ski
$65,500
 
Camp, XC Ski
$60,500
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$39,900
 
Camp
$68,500
 
Camp
$45,800
 
Camp, XC Ski
$27,500
 
Camp
$23,250
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$39,900
 
Camp, XC Ski
$58,900
 
Camp
$45,800
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$39,900
 
Camp, XC Ski
$58,900
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$27,500
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$53,800
 
Camp
$45,800
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$39,900
 
Camp
$45,800
 
Camp
$49,300
 
Camp, XC Ski
$58,900
 
Camp, XC Ski
$58,900
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$39,900
 
Camp, Mountaineering
$27,500
 
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

These Experiences have a minimum number requirement. We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.