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MOUNT VINSON

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 ANI 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 ANI's 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, 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.

Dates & Rates  
Code Start Date End Date Price (US$) 
V1-15 Nov 26, 2015 Dec 07, 2015 US$ 40,700 (Full)
V2-15 Dec 07, 2015 Dec 18, 2015 US$ 40,700 (Waiting List)
V3-15 Dec 18, 2015 Dec 29, 2015 US$ 40,700 (Full)
V4-15 Dec 29, 2015 Jan 09, 2016 US$ 40,700 (Full)
V5-15 Jan 09, 2016 Jan 20, 2016 US$ 40,700 (Full)
VINS1-16 Nov 26, 2016 Dec 07, 2016 US$ 41,500
VINS2-16 Dec 07, 2016 Dec 18, 2016 US$ 41,500
VINS3-16 Dec 18, 2016 Dec 29, 2016 US$ 41,500
VINS4-16 Dec 29, 2016 Jan 09, 2017 US$ 41,500
VINS5-16 Jan 09, 2017 Jan 20, 2017 US$ 41,500
** Ski ascent of Mount Vinson for experienced skiers.

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.

Days 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.

Days 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.

Days 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.

Days 8 - 9: 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.

Days 10: 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.

Days 11: 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.

Days 13*: Return to Punta Arenas, Chile - The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

*Schedule: No two Antarctic experiences are 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 details

Voyage:
MOUNT VINSON
Duration:
11 nights / 12 days
Start:
Punta Arenas, Chile
Finish:
Punta Arenas, Chile

What's Included

ALL South Pole Experiences include:

  • Transfers to and from Punta Arenas airport, Chile

  • Briefing with refreshments in Punta Arenas one day prior to departure

  • Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica

  • All flights within Antarctica as shown in your itinerary

  • Meals and accommodation while in Antarctica

  • Expedition Guide(s) (and naturalist or lecturer on some Experiences)

  • Use of recreational equipment at Union Glacier Camp

  • Official and personalised VAE Certificate of Achievement

  • A Baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg) on Punta Arenas-Union Glacier flight

  • (Baggage allowance of up to 66lb (30kg) for Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet, Messner and Footsteps of Amundsen Expeditions)

 

SOME Experiences include:

  • Group camping equipment (when travelling beyond Union Glacier Camp)

  • Group climbing equipment (climbing expeditions)

  • Sled, harness, ski pole pogies (all ski expeditions)

  • Skis, ski skins, ski poles (Ski Last Degree)

Experiences DO NOT include:

  • Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas

  • Flights within Antarctica, other than those shown in itinerary

  • Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas

  • Airport transfers other than in Punta Arenas

  • Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent from VAE for some Experiences)

  • Expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays

  • Any excess baggage costs over confirmed baggage allowance

  • Cost for the use of satellite phone whilst in Antarctica

  • Insurance coverage – personal, medical, evacuation or otherwise