Imagine yourself on the summit of Mount Vinson 16,050 ft (4892 m), the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the coveted Seven Summits. Majestic, snow-covered peaks stand guard over vast glaciers below and in the distance, snow meets sky along a noticeably curved horizon. This is a moment to savor. All of the challenges you faced to get here only highlight 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 summited on December 18, 1966 and for many years did not see a second ascent due to the challenges of accessing its remote location. In 1985, we pioneered logistics to support a private expedition to Mount Vinson and 30+ years later, we continue to guide climbers to the top of the bottom of the world!
You’ll ascend the Branscomb Shoulder Route which has become the “standard route”, climbing gentle glaciers, 45° snow covered 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. To climb Mount Vinson is to challenge yourself on a mountain like no other in one of the most remote regions on Earth.
The interior of Antarctica has a cold, dry, windy climate. Average mid-season temperatures at our base camp range from 10F to 25F (-12C to -4C ). On a sunny windless day it can feel quite warm but, when the wind blows, you will be glad of warm layers and a wind jacket. Temperatures can drop as low as -22F (-30C) in early November.
Mount Vinson climbers should prepare for extreme temperatures -40F (-40C) and severe storms.
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.
ARRIVAL DAY: PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE
PRE-DEPARTURE DAY: LUGGAGE PICK-UP & BRIEFING
DAY 1: FLY TO ANTARCTICA
DAY 2-3: VINSON BASE CAMP
DAY 4-5: BASE CAMP TO LOW CAMP
DAY 6: LOW CAMP TO HIGH CAMP
DAY 7-8: HIGH CAMP TO SUMMIT
DAY 9: DESCENT TO BASE CAMP
DAY 10-11: RETURN TO UNION GLACIER
DAY 12: RETURN TO CHILE
FLEXIBLE DEPARTURE DAY: FLY HOME
- Airport transfers in Punta Arenas, Chile
- Round trip flight to Antarctica from Punta Arenas
- Round trip flight to Vinson Base Camp from Union Glacier
- Meals and tented accommodation in Antarctica
- Group camping and climbing equipment
- Mountain Guide
- Celebration dinner and Certificate of Achievement
- Checked luggage up to 55 lb (25 kg)
- Insurance coverage—personal, medical,evacuation, or otherwise
- Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas
- Airport transfers outside of Punta Arenas
- Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
- Additional flights within Antarctica
- Personal equipment and clothing
- Expenses incurred due to delays
- Luggage over 55 lb (25 kg)
- Satellite phone charges
From day one this was a perfect trip. Meeting my teammates for the team dinner was something special. After that I learned so much from the experienced guides and rangers on the mountain. Of course also my teammates who climbed the other 6 summits could tell me a lot. But what a special place it is! Enjoyed every part of it and ALE did an amazing job. It's expensive for sure, but they take care of you. You would want for nothing more on this mountain. Thanks everybody, for making this one hell of start!
Had a fantastic trip with ALE in November 2019. The whole outfit was incredibly professional, from the pick-up at the airport to the transfer back! ALE have significant infrastructure in Antarctica and use it to provide a comfortable and stress free experience. Of course the actual summiting of Vinson requires physical and mental strength, but the quality of the guide (in our case, the excellent Scott Webster) and the support team made the whole experience much more enjoyable than I anticipated. The support on the mountain and the preparation that the rangers had undertaken enabled us to climb without having to erect tents at the end of each day and we only had to carry our equipment, food and some limited group provisions. This didn’t take away the challenge of the actual mountain, but made things a bit more comfortable for us than other teams that have to put their tents up on arrival at Base Camp, Low Camp and High Camp. I would highly recommend ALE.
ALE is highly recommended for the Vinson experience. I initially booked with a private guide in California, then was bounced to Adventure Consultants, who then bounced me to ALE. Needless to say, I was a bit unnerved. ALE took away my apprehension. They are the primary logistics provider to Antarctica, so all other service providers end up using them. However, if you are booked with them directly, they and their advance ranger team allow you to use their very sophisticated infrastructure, including posh tents with cots at Union Glacier, massive mess tents, fully standable tents at Vinson base camp, fully provisioned mess tents at Vinson base camp, and basic and comfortable mess and sleeping tents higher up. I'm a self made, guided, and solo climber, and had just completed the 7 Summits I'm 2 years on Vinson. For the most part, I have run my campaign very basically. That said, to go and have the full platinum experience was quite the reward. We didnt have to move our own tents, pads, fuel, or really any community gear. That's the way to rock down there! Finally, our guide Scott Webster, from Scotland, was the best guide. I simply cannot express how comfortable was his demeanor, professionalism, and leadership. He managed our motley crew exceptionally, including one rabble rouser with a bit of a grumpy streak (me!). He also took us on a mountain bike tour across Union glacier when we were finished, and ice climbing and exploring our very last day. Only if you desire to not be guided at all do I suggest you look elsewhere, but that is an impossibility on Vinson, so look no further than ALE.
ALE run the show down here. They provide all logistics for all other companies and manage all the camps on the mountain. ALE customers get priority for everything plus tours around Union Glacier before/after the expedition are all available at no extra cost. Their guides are world class. Their rangers (who help setup camps and fix ropes) are all world class mountain guides working for ALE for the season. Without a doubt the best expedition I have ever been on. Worth every penny.