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13 Days* Mount Vinson


Travel dates:

23 Nov - 5 Dec 2013
5 Dec - 17 Dec 2013
17 Dec - 29 Dec 2013
29 Dec 2013 - 10 Jan 2014
10 Jan - 22 Jan 2014


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 1: Fly to Antarctica

Depart from 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.

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 by roping together throughout our time on the mountain. At Low Camp (elevation 9000 ft/2750 m), the guides will build a cooking/dining shelter for our group. Depending on conditions, we may stay 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’, staying overnight again 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 to 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 may 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 extremely exposed to the wind, requiring care to prevent cold injury.

The facilities at High Camp are more basic than the ones at the camps below. We cook and eat simple, dehydrated meals in our tents, or outside if the weather is calm. We will spend the next day 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 savour 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 ANI 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, climb and explore the scenic peaks nearby camp.


Day 13*: Return to Punta Arenas, Chile

The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new group of avid explorers, and you will depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

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.


Experience includes:

  • 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 ANI 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)


Experiences DOES 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 ANI 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