Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica and is believed to be the coldest of all the Seven Summits!
Duration21 Days Door to Door
Activity Level Challenging
Elevation4892m | 16,050 ft.
Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica and believed to be the coldest mountain on earth. Logistically challenging to climb, fewer people have summited Vinson than Mt Everest. That being said, it is an unforgettable trip from start to finish – and with just over 1000 people having successfully summited, you gain definite bragging rights if you reach the top!
Vinson Massif, located about 1,200 km from the South Pole, is the highest peak in Antarctica at 4,892m above sea level. In winter, temperatures have been known to plummet to -68 degrees Celsius with summer being far milder at anywhere from -15 to -35 degrees Celsius! Antarctica is unique in that it has no indigenous population, no government and is not ruled by any one country. It is also the highest continent and coldest continent on Earth! The best months for expeditions are December, January and February – trips are usually between 17 and 21 days long, door-to-door.
The climb of Vinson offers little technical difficulty and is considered to be a “moderate” or “intermediate” climb. That being said, the icy temperatures and strong winds add to the challenge of the climb, mitigated by 24 hours of daylight! Mountaineering and roped glacier travel is recommended, as well as cold weather camping skills.
- All logistics up to the summit and back
- All facilitation costs
- Flights from Patriot Hills to the Vinson Massif Base Camp and back
- 2 nights lodging in Punta Arenas
- Climbing permit
- 25 kgs of personal equipment
- High quality tents on the climb
- All communal kitchen and camping gear
- Sleds and all rigging
- All group climbing gear
- Good quality food on the climb
- Imported high altitude freeze dried food for high camps
- Gas & burners for the climb
- Walkie-talkie sets for the team
- International travel
- Additional nights in Punta Arenas due to flight delays
- All personal climbing gear
- Luggage in excess of 25kgs
- Emergency evacuation
- Personal expenses
- Gratuities and summit bonus
- Personal medical expenses, medical and evacuation insurance
- Any costs arising from flight cancellation/ delays, political disturbance or natural disasters.
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile
We will spend some time exploring the city,. Our duffel bags will be packed and sent to the airport to get ready for departure tomorrow.
Depart for Antarctica
After a 5 hour flight with spectacular scenery, we will arrive at the Union Glacier camp.
Union Glacier Camp
Technical revision day, spent reviewing rope travel, Ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques to make sure that everyone is ready!
Fly to Vinson Base Camp
Climb to Camp 1
Climb the Branscomb Ridge
Load carry to Camp 2 before retruning to Camp 1 for the night.
Climb to Camp 2
Climb the slopes to the summit ridge, and traverse the ridge line to the highest point in Antarctica! Return to Camp 2 for the night.
Descend to Vinson Base Camp
Fly to Union Glacier Camp
Fly to Punta Arenas
International flights home
The emphasis on equipment necessary for mountain travel follows two simple tenets: lightweight and functional. The items you choose to take should be lightweight, dependable, and adaptable to a variety of extreme conditions. The quality of the equipment you choose has a lot to do with how warm, dry, and safe you will remain, so be critical of quality and the proper fit of clothing. Comfort lends itself to a more enjoyable experience!
The layering system outlined below is usually sufficient for most people, but if you tend to be colder, bring one extra medium layer (such as a vest), which will be ideal for extra warmth around camp. When making the final decision as to what goes into your pack, remember that it’s a fine art of taking just enough clothes and accessories to do the job, while not over-burdening yourself with items you probably will not use.
Cotton clothing must be avoided because it dries very slowly and is a poor insulator when wet. Instead, choose wool or synthetic fabrics that “wick” the sweat and moisture away from your skin to keep you much warmer.
- Jumar – one right or left
- Climbing Harness
- Ice axe with leash
- Anti-balling plates
- Crampon rubber protectors
- Walking sticks
- Prussic loops
- Screwgate Carabiners x3
- Regular Carabiners x3
- Slings x3
- Figure of 8 / rappel device
- Double-layered boots – Millets / La Sportiva
- Trekking boots
- Running shoes
- Thongs / Sandals
- Spare boot laces for trekking boots
- Expedition socks x4
- Trekking socks x4
- Liner socks x4
- Toe warmers
- Down jacket
- Gortex longs
- Gortex shell
- Trekking pants x2
- Thermal underwear – tops & bottoms x3
- Normal underwear
- Long-sleeved trekking shirts x3
- Thermal suit – optional
- Short-sleeved technical shirts x3
- Soft shell jacket
- Hard shell jacket
- Polartec longs x2
- Polartec long-sleeved tops x2
- Mitts x2
- Polartec gloves x2
- Silk glove liners x2
- Hand warmers
- Balaclava – heavyweight
- Balaclava – lightweight
- Neoprene facemask – optional
- Woollen hat / beanie
- Woollen scarf
- Head torch x2 – plus spare batteries
- Sun hat
- Goggles – 100% UV & IR
- Sunglasses – with side covers
- Expedition backpack – 80 litre
- Trekking backpack – 50 litre
- Sleeping bag – minus 40˚C
- Sleeping bag – minus 15˚C
- Sleeping bag liners x2
- Compression bags x3
- Self-inflatable mattress
- Closed cell foam pad
- Pillow / cushion
- Thermos flask x2
- Thermos mug
- Knife, fork, spoon
- Nalgene bowl
- Leatherman multi-tool
- Water bottles with insulation x2
- Large karrimor plastic bags x2
- Medium karrimor plastic bags x4
- Pee bottle / funnel
- Duct tape
- Baby wipes
- Zip-lock bags x10
- Sunscreen – maximum SPF
- Protective cream for lips – maximum SPF
- Ear plugs
- Hand sanitizer
- Large waterproof duffel bags x3
- Shorts & t-shirts
- Mobile phone & charger
- Passport & travel documents
- Passport photos for visas x8
- Certified copies of all travel documentation
- Currency / credit cards
- Pens & pencils
- Journal (optional)
- Reading glasses (optional)
- Camera equipment
- Battery chargers
- International adaptors
- Binoculars (optional)
- Playing cards (optional)
- Clean clothes for travelling home
- Personal First Aid Kit
- Medication / Prescriptions
- Energy drinks
Please consult with your nearest Chilean Embassy or Consulate.
No immunizations are currently required. However, we suggest you chat to your local Travel Clinic for their recommendations.
This training information is intended as a guideline and should be used as such. If you are unsure about anything, please chat to us!
Most importantly, before you embark on any exercise program, please consult your doctor or exercise physiologist to make sure that you are ready for the increased workload.
A focused training program should begin 3 – 4 months before the trip, but working on your base fitness before that is important as it lays a good foundation for the harder work that will follow.
Climbing big mountains requires cardiovascular endurance (via aerobic training), strength endurance (through strength conditioning) and climbing-specific training (i.e. hiking with a pack).
Being in strong physical shape is one of the most important aspects for a successful trek. You should be planning to progressively increase your aerobic training and speed of weekly training hikes to give you climbing-specific conditioning that cannot be matched by any other sort of training.
Suggested activities include running, cycling, mountain biking, swimming, walking on an inclined treadmill, doing stair stepping or stepmill training, trail running, walking up and down hills, or participating in step aerobic classes.
When first beginning a cardiovascular training program, begin with three workouts (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of 30 minutes of sustained activity at a moderate intensity, and build up to 4-5 aerobic sessions of sustained effort for at least 45 – 60 minutes (taking Wednesday and Sunday as rest days, for example).
Be sure to include a 5-10 minute gentle warm-up before working at your target heart rate for the day. For most workouts, choose a level of exertion that allows you to connect a few words together in a phrase, but leaves you feeling comfortably tired at the end of the workout.
Remember to cool down with 5-10 minutes of appropriate stretching of the muscles you used most in your activity, including lower back, calves, hamstrings, hips and quadriceps.
Training with weights, backpacks and gym machines will help you build overall strength, particularly in the lower back, abdominals, upper back, shoulders and legs. Developing strength in your upper back and shoulders will help with carrying a pack and using trekking poles.
The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending steep sections and scree slopes, which will be encountered on Vinson.
Before embarking on any weight training, please consult with a qualified gym instructor so that you are well briefed in terms of using the equipment. Most important in strength training is to be sure that you maintain proper form at all times in order to prevent injury or strain.
This involves hiking steep outdoor trails, going up and down stairs or training on an inclined treadmill. In the months leading up to the expedition, it is important to do some long walks in the mountains.
Remember: All of your training is geared towards giving you the strength and endurance to summit Vinson and successfully get back down again.
Answer: Climbs usually take place between December and February when Antarctica receives 24 hours of sunlight a day.