- Experience the rush of flying in a Russian cargo plane and landing on an ice runway.
- Be part of the amazing community of climbers, skiers, researchers, and adventures that pass through Union Glacier camp.
- Peer out over the seemingly never-ending sea of ice from high camp.
- Visit the unique and hospitable city of Punta Arenas at the southern tip of South America.
- Take in the view of the mighty and breath-taking Ellsworth range from the summit of the tallest peak in Antarctica.
- Tour the American science base at the South Pole as you finish your ski south.
Antarctica is truly the last frontier. This continent, a mass of rock and ice covering 5,405,400 square miles (14 million sq km) of area, including the South Pole, is larger than Europe. Antarctica has no government, no permanent population, is not ruled by any one country, and is the only continent without an indigenous population. The landmass is controlled under the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959 and in force as of 1962. Antarctica is a desert that mainly consists of ice. It also has the distinction of being the highest continent, as defined by overall average height of the surface, due to the thick ice layer covering all land except for the tallest mountain ranges. It, of course, is the coldest continent on Earth. We begin our expedition in the small Chilean city of Punta Arenas where we do final gear checks before flying to Antarctica. Here we will transfer to a smaller plane for the flight to base camp before ascending the peak. Our route consists of low angle glacier walking down low with some moderately steep fixed rope and ridge walking up high. Overall the climbing is incredibly enjoyable, albeit cold, and very “do-able.” Climbing the Seven Summits is committed to providing the highest quality Vinson expedition. You can be assured that it will be both challenging and fun, a true once in a lifetime. Rest assured that our professional priorities are first and foremost “Safety” and “Success” which we achieve by outfitting our teams with the best logistics and the most capable, qualified and seasoned guides in the world. Mike is pleased to boast a 100% expedition success rate on Vinson of the expeditions he has led. Who you choose as the leader of your Vinson expedition will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Sound leadership is the difference between a great expedition and a miserable experience. Vinson is a potentially dangerous mountain and climbing at such extreme temperatures is very serious. This expedition will be organized and led by Mike Hamill, Owner of Climbing the Seven Summits. Mike has personally guided nearly 20 Vinson expeditions, 10 Mt. Everest expeditions, 23 X 8,000m expeditions, has 6 Everest summits, currently holds the record for most non-Sherpa summits of Cho Oyu, and has written the guide book to “Climbing the Seven Summits,” making him one of the most experienced guides on the mountain. Well over 100 summits have been notched on Vinson under Mike’s direct leadership. Climbing the Seven Summits expeditions are meticulously organized with the best logistics. We feel that our guides are an incredibly important to our success. CTSS employs only world-class leaders who are known for their focus on client care and experience. Vinson is a serious undertaking meant for climbers with prior experience in the cold and some climbing skills. Guides will work with clients throughout the expedition to provide logistics, guidance, and information to best ensure the clients summit success.
A Note from Expedition Leader Mike Hamill
Welcome to “Climbing the Seven Summits” Vinson Massif Expedition! When people ask me what my favourite climb of the Seven Summits, I say hands-down Vinson. From flying to the “ice” in a Russian cargo plane to looking out over the sea of ice, it is like no other experience on earth. I personally lead all of our Vinson expeditions and have been climbing this mountain for over 16 years and promise to draw on decades of first hand guiding experience to offer you the highest chance of success at an exceptional value. Best regards, Mike Hamill Owner and Lead Guide, Climbing the Seven Summits
This itinerary is only a rough estimate and will be determined by weather and acclimatization. This is adventure travel meaning things rarely go as planned and this schedule will likely change. Climbers need to be adaptable and positive. We always recommend climbers arrive in Punta Arenas one day early to avoid travel delays or issues with lost baggage. Added expenses (hotel/food/sightseeing) of this extra day are the clients responsibility. Please let us know if you want us to arrange logistics for early arrivals or for a single rooming option.
- Fly from home
- Meet in Punta Arenas
- Gear checks and climber briefing
- Fly to Antarctica
- Transfer to Vinson Base Camp
- Carry to C1
- Move to C1
- Carry to C2
- Move to C2
- Descend to base camp and transfer top Union Glacier
- Fly to Chile
- Fly home
- Arrive home
- Contingency day
- Contingency day
- Guides Flights to Union Glacier
- Antarctica from Punta Arenas Chile and flights to Vinson base camp from Union Glacier
- Hotels: 3 nights lodging double occupancy in Punta Arenas (2 nights before the expedition and 1 night after).
- Any additional nights due to delays etc will be at your own expense.
- Food: All expedition (on Mountain) food is covered including breakfast, dinner, snacks and hot drinks, and breakfast at the Hotel in Punta Arenas.
- All Team Gear: Four season tents, cooking gear, group duffels, stoves, etc. Satellite Phone: To update the blog and available to clientele at $3/min
- Flights to and from Punta Arenas
- Chile All in town restaurant meals (breakfast is provided) and specialty mountain lunch food
- Transportation from and to the airport in Punta Arenas
- Personal gear: all personal climbing gear is the responsibility of the client In the event of a rescue, evacuation, or early departure from the group, any rescue expenses incurred or excess expenses above and beyond our normal trip costs including transport, hotels, evacuation, flight changes, and gear shipping are the responsibility of the client.
- Guide Tips (customary but optional)
- Costs incurred as a result of events beyond the control of CTSS above and beyond the normal expedition costs
- Required trip insurance policy (for trip cancellation, interruption, rescue & evacuation, medical treatment, repatriation, etc.)
Vinson Climb Difficulty: Advanced Beginner to Intermediate
Climbing Vinson requires serious fitness, an ability to perform well at altitude, the mindset to be away from home for 3 weeks, and a desire for rugged adventure travel. Antarctica is a very remote and rugged place with few of the creature comforts we have come to expect. We try to give our climbers all of the creature comforts that we can but at the end of the day this is true adventure travel! Climbers need solid cramponing skill and knowledge of self-arrest technique and ice axe use are valuable but not a pre-requisite. If you want to join this expedition but don’t have these skills we can work with you to get you up to speed prior to the climbs. Please let us know how we can help!
Will I be sharing a tent?
Yes, both at base camp and one the mountain tents will be shared accommodations due to the cold and the weight of carrying extra tents. Please plan to share a tent with one of you fellow climbers.
How cold will it be?
Very. Although temperatures during the day low on the mountain can get to 70F, most of the time temperatures are well below freezing. Night time temps can be -40 lower on the mountain and summit temps can be from -20F – -60F, depending on the wind and how direct the sun is. Please be prepared for extreme cold.
How heavy will my pack be?
In general, climbing packs on Vinson are moderately heavy to quite heavy. You will likely be carrying 40lbs – 50lbs (18kg – 24kg) most of the time while climbing with a few days like the move to high camp and descent from high camp being heavier 50lbs – 65lbs (24kg – 30kg)
Will I need to purchase insurance?
Yes. Trip delay and cancellation, rescue, repatriation, medical insurance is mandatory for this program for your own benefit. We have seen too many times people need to cancel their trip either before or during the expedition for reasons such as injury, health, family and business matters. With such a long trip and so much at stake, climbers need to be prepared for contingencies.
What is the food like on the climb?
In general our food on and off the mountain is excellent. There are many good restaurants in Punta Arenas that we will check out. At Union Glacier first rate chefs will be preparing our food for us. On the mountain the guides will be cooking large, hearty meals that are very tasty albeit a bit more rustic then in town.
Guides were professional but had to work hard to move a large (10 people + 2 guides) group considering clients being overloaded with inappropriate heavy inadequate gear and food. 1. Group pressured to reduce personal gear weights yet packs were overloaded with group gear, primarily food for December 2020 and 2021 expeditions. Significant amount of condiments (mustard, sirracha etc) hauled to high camp will be of no use because it will be frozen. 2. Needed more and better stoves as 4+ hours per day was dedicated to melt snow for the group size. And only one person could melt at a time. Coleman car camp stove hauled to Camp 1 barely got the job done (wrong equipment for the job). Thank goodness the weather was nice! MSR stoves at high camp were old and needed cleaning with bad plungers. 3. Food when it was provided (breakfast in the afternoon and dinner after midnight) was mostly inedible due to type of meals and poor stoves. 4. Car camp tent at base camp and camp 1 was inadequate equipment not to mention embarrassing plus cold, slick inside. 5. Fixed line travel was inefficient due to too heavy of packs (some members carried 75-85 lb packs) and too long between breaks.