Totally fun and fulfilling climb of Mt Vinson with IMG, summiting early January 2014. Greg Vernovage and Aaron Mainer guided us perfectly. Very safe, totally beautiful, really fun teammates. I just do not have enough good things to say about this expedition. It is cold down there... really cold... but all the systems are in place to deal with it. If you can afford Vinson, this is an option to consider very carefully. Summit day video here: https://youtu.be/3ZNNncOoh8Q
I had a great trip with Alpine. The operation was well-organized from beginning to end including flights, hotels, food, gear, etc. However, having now seen the ALE (Antarctica Logistics and Expeditions) operation, I would go with them if I went again. ALE operates Vinson so their facilities are superior and the operators piggy back which sometimes makes you feel like second class citizens (eg, not getting full access to the facilities at Union Glacier). If you have a guide with another company you want to follow, by all means go with them. Otherwise, I recommend ALE.
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!
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.