An expedition to Vinson Peak is often called the “Key to Seven Summits”.
No, the mountain itself does not present serious technical problems, but it is very difficult in terms of getting to it. For that there are two weighty reasons: its utter remoteness and the high price of any expedition there. So, a trip to Vinson Massif is exceptionally interesting and prestigious. So few people have done it!
Our program starts in Punta Arenas (Chile). From there an IL-76 aircraft takes us to Patriot Hills in Antarctica. It is an airstrip belonging to Chile and rented by Americans for their tourist flights. From here a small plane brings us to Vinson Massif Base Camp (BC), where we pitch our tents. From here, having fixed Camp 2 and 3, we start for the summit.
Antarctica is an extremely cold place, even in summer (mild winter rather), but as a compensation we will have the sun all 24 hours, will not need head torches and can save on batteries. We suggest you should arrive in Punta Arenas at least 3 days before the official start of the expedition. Due to the very unstable weather in that area our out-flight cannot be definitely fixed well in advance: the date has to be adjusted to the weather’s whims. The waiting should not be too long (1-3 days), but, alas, a 10 days’ one has been recorded.
Description of the region: The Vinson Massif is a part of the Sentinel Range (Ellsworth Mountains), lying in the west of Antarctica and overlooking the Ronne Ice Shelf. Discovered in 1935 by the American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, it is the highest massif on the continent (Mt. Vinson - 16,066 ft or 4,897 m)