Expedition to the eternal ice
An expedition to the most remote place on earth.
Mount Vinson and the South Pole - an amazing and adventurous combination.
Together with the North Pole and Mount Everest, the South Pole belongs to Three Poles Challenge
Technicially easy, but taxing climb due to harsh conditions.
Kobler & Partner has organised successful Mount Vinson expeditions for 20 years; the Vinson / South Pole combination has been on offer since 2009.
Kobler & Partner has the ANI status of being a “Preferred Guiding Company“.
Antarctica is the most remote, coldest, driest, windiest, iciest and least developed continent on earth, in short it is the most extreme place in the world! It is about 5.5 million square miles (14.2 million square km) in size which makes up around a tenth of the entire land mass of our planet. Ice thicker than 2,000m covers about 98 percent of the surface.
At 4,892m, Mount Vinson is the highest mountain of Antarctica making it one of the Seven Summits. It is located in the Sentinel Range, a mountain range situated in the west and forming the northern half of the Ellsworth Mountains in Antarctica. The range trends NNW-SSE for about 185 km (115 mi) and is 24 to 48 km (15 to 30 mi) wide and is surrounded by massive glaciers. It contains the five highest mountains of Antarctica.
Mount Vinson was only discovered in 1958 during a flight of the US-Air Force over the Sentinel Range. Nine years later on 17 December 1966, an American team led by Nicholas Clinch first climbed the mountain making it the last of the Seven Summits to be ascended. Though it is not difficult to climb Mount Vinson from a technical point of view, the freezing temperatures and remote location of the mountain make it a challenging climb.
The geographical South Pole has a fixed position at a latitude of 90°0’0“ S. Reaching this point has always been considered extreme hardship which is why Roald Amundsen’s feat of becoming the first human to stand on this point in 1911 belongs to the most outstanding achievements of the last century. This was proceeded by a dramatic race against the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott.
To this day, expeditions to these latitudes are still rare and require a very high degree of personal dedication and effort. Silence, wind, “white-outs”, patience and knowing that we are in absolute solitude are our constant companions during this trip. And as a matter of fact – so is the sun as it never disappears on the horizon.
Day 1 - Day 2: Flight to Punta Arenas
Flight via Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, Chile’s most-southern city. From Europe, the trip to Punta Arenas takes about 24 - 30 hours. Our mountain guide will travel to Punta Arenas a few days earlier to make the necessary preparations for the trip. He or she will collect us from the airport and take us to our centrally located hotel in the heart of Punta Arenas.
Day 3: Punta Arenas
Today is reserved for our last-minute preparations and our pre-expedition briefing, during which our guide will explain all peculiarities about this trip, in particular about the flight to Antarctica.
Day 4: Flight to Union Glacier
Now, the real fun begins! We fly to Union Glacier Camp on board of a Ilyushin. This five-hour-flight is probably one of the most unique and spectacular flights in the world. The camp is located at approximately 700m in the Heritage Range on Union Glacier which gives the camp its name. Apart from the American Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole and the Russian Vostock Station, this is the only base that is not on the coast. From now on, the sun will never leave our side putting us under the spell of the midnight sun!
Day 5: Union Glacier - Vinson Massif
At Union Glacier Camp, we board a Twin Otter or Cessna plane that takes us to Vinson base camp at 2,134 m. During this 40-minute flight, we have a magnificent view of the entire Vinson massif which is 21 km long and 13 km wide.
Day 6 - Day 14: Mount Vinson
During the following nine days, we will ascend Mount Vinson for which we need two high camps. The first camp is at approximately 2,800m while the second camp lies at 3,780m. The crux is between the two high camps where we have to overcome a pillar which is secured with fixed ropes. During the entire ascent, we have the grandiose mountain scenery of the Ellsworth Mountains in our view. If you haven’t noticed so far, this is definitely the point where you will appreciate the absolute uniqueness of this expedition. Our return trip to Union Glacier Camp depends on the number of days we require to reach the summit.
Day 15 - Day 17: Union Glacier Camp
The members who did not opt for a trip to the South Pole return to Punta Arenas today. Our South Pole group stays at Union Glacier Camp for a couple of days to recover and prepare for the second part of our expedition, the journey to the Last Degree.
Day 18: Union Glacier Camp - 89° S
Another spectacular flight takes us across the endless expanse of the Antarctic ice and drops us at 89° S. We establish our first camp and prepare for our trip to the South Pole.
Day 19 - Day 23: 89° S - South Pole
Depending on the katabatic wind that carries high-density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity, the surface of the snow is filled with Zastrugi. These wave-like formations make the surface look like a stormy ocean and will certainly keep us on our toes as we have to find a way through this rugged maze without overturning our sledges. We have to cover an average distance of about 15 km per 24 hours which requires us to set up and dismantle our camp every single day. Marching through a landscape with a never-changing horizon requires a large degree of mental strength.
As strong winds can hit at any time, establishing and dismantling camps are our top priority. However, once the tents are tightly anchored we do have enough time to enjoy the silence and solitude of the Antarctic. Due to the fact that the sun never disappears on the horizon, the temperatures can be rather comfortable inside the tent.
Day 24: Arrival on the South Pole
On the penultimate day, the Amundsen-Scott Station appears far away on the horizon, which makes the last part of the trek mentally very difficult. Once we reach 90°0’0“, however, we will be filled with a wonderful sense of completion while we will feel a very strange sensation. No matter where we turn, we always look north! We spend the night at the South Pole!
Day 25: South Pole - Union Glacier Camp
If the weather allows, a Twin Otter plane will pick us up and take us back to the Union Glacier Camp in about six hours. We spend our last night under the midnight sun and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this rather special continent.
Day 26: Flight from Union Glacier Camp - Punta Arenas
We load our gear on the Ilyushin and fly back to Punta Arenas. After all the hardship in Antarctica, we can now enjoy the comforts of our hotel and look forward to our celebration dinner, which will be a wonderful feast!
Day 27 - Day 28: Punta Arenas (spare days)
As the flights to and from Union Glacier Camp depend on the weather, we have included some spare days in our itinerary. If the flight from Antarctica to Punta Arenas takes place as scheduled, we will have time to visit some interesting places such as the nearby penguinarium or the Paine National Park.
Day 29 - Day 30: Return flight from Punta Arenas
We take our individual return flights from Punta Arenas. Our mountain guide will stay behind for a few days to sort out the gear. After 30 days in the eternal ice, we will be back home with plenty of new and wonderful memories of our journey to Antarctica.
The Profilcheck is a fixed part of the detailed travel programme. Please read it thoroughly and assess your skill and physical condition. Due to the score required for this expedition, your score will indicate whether or not your skills, fitness and mountaineering experience are sufficient to join this expedition. Your registration is a testimony of your physical and technical abilities to participate in this expedition.
Please take note of the following points concerning procedure of this expedition:
- The expedition is demanding and exhausting.The high altitude alone entails several risks.
- The members have to be able to move securely and independently through very rough terrain (snow, ice, rock, etc.). You have to independently rope up with a group. Active participation on the mountain, camaraderie and tolerance are an essential part of this expedition and we count on you to be able to provide this.
- You have to be able to recognise your own limits on the mountain and be prepared to, if necessary, abandon the attempt and turn back. You join this expedition at your own responsibility.
- The leader of the expedition is responsible for the management of the entire group, and personal support is not one of his/her responsibilities. Nevertheless, every member has to prepared to follow the decisions made by the leader. The decisions are always made in the group’s interest.
- Depending on the circumstances and conditions on the mountain, improvisations and changes to the itinerary might be necessary.
- Kobler & Partner do not take any liability for accidents, damages or loss of equipment.
- Organisation of the entire expedition
- All special gear needed for the Last Degree (see gear list)
- IPre-expedition briefing ati Bächli Bergsport including a 10% voucher for equipment purchase
- Return flight Punta Arenas - Union Glacier
- Return flight Union Glacier - Vinson Base Camp
- Flight Union Glacier - 89° southern latitude
- Flight South Pole - Union Glacier
- All formalities, fees and permits
- All transfers; bus and jeep rides on site according to itinerary
- Overnight stays in **** hotel in Punta Arenas in double rooms (2 nights before Antarctica flight)
- Accommodation in two-man-tents (type North Face VE25)
- Half-board during the two days in Punta Arenas (before Antarctica flight)
- Full-board during the time in Antarctica (Union Glacier Camp and Vinson Base Camp with fresh food and special high camp food)
- High quality fresh food at Vinson Base Camp
- Large mess tent at Vinson Base Camp
- Powerful Colemann stove and cookware for Vinson Base Camp
- High altitude stove and cookware (MSR petrol stove) for high camps
- Necessary group equipment such as sledge, snow stakes, safety gear
- Fixed ropes
- Shovels, snow saws, probes for establishing the camps
- Large medical kit with pulse oximeter at BC
- Emergency medical kit at high camps
- (Emergency) medical support at Union Glacier Camp
- Special, powerful radios (1 radio per roped party)
- Satellite phone, excluding taxes
- Experienced English speaking Antarctic guide for the Last Degree
- Experienced nationally certified Kobler & Partner mountain guide on Mount Vinson
- Return flight – home country - Punta Arenas (flights from Europe can be booked via Kobler & Partner)
- Individual drinks in Punta Arenas
- Additional nights in Punta Arenas due to weather conditions (see “Interesting Facts”)
- Personal medication
- In case no roommate can be found for a booked double room, we charge half of the single room surcharge (see Additional Costs)
- Surcharges that may arise due to changes of the itinerary
- Personal emergency insurance (minimal coverage of USD 150,000) obligatory for Antarctica trips
Kobler & Partner was one of the first European tour operators to organise successful expeditions to Mount Vinson. Due to the long-term and fruitful cooperation with ANI, Kobler & Partner holds the “Preferred Guiding Company Status”.
This expedition combines the ascent of Mount Vinson and exploring the South Pole, the “Last Degree”. Mount Vinson is guided by a Kobler & Partner mountain guide while the South Pole trip is guided by an English-speaking guide, who has extensive knowledge of Antarctica. Kobler & Partner only acts as a middleman.
An expedition to Antarctica is rather unusual whereby the extreme climate requires special rules. The scheduled timetable only serves as a guideline. There might be delays and waiting times due to harsh weather conditions which could be an issue for individual members.
We have a time window of 23 days (from/to Punta Arenas) to reach the summit of Mount Vinson and the South Pole, which is usually sufficient in good conditions. However, if the expedition is delayed due to bad weather, technical issues with the aeroplanes, medical emergencies or any other reason which is out of Kobler & Partner’s control, the additional costs that may arise have to be covered by the expedition members.
The Antarctic environment is inhospitable and weather conditions are extreme. Of all parts of the world, the Antarctic is not only the coldest, it is also the driest and windiest continent. The average annual temperature is -55°C. The monthly average temperature varies according to the length of the day. During winter, the sun does not appear at all whereby the sun shines 24 hours during summer. December and January are the warmest months. During the time of our expedition we can expect an average of -40°C. The annual precipitation is around 40l/m2 in the countryside. Looking at these facts, Antarctica is actually the largest desert in the world.
First come, first fly
Flights from Union Glacier to Vinson Base Camp take place according to when payment was made. Kobler & Partner always guarantees quick payment which means that early registration is necessary on this.
Due dates for payment
- On registration: USD 8,000.- (non-refundable)
- 30 June: USD 40,000
- 15 August: final payment depending on group size
Please note that this offer has a special cancellation policy
- up to 120 days prior to departure - 20%
- from 119 to 90 days prior to - 60%
- from 89 days prior to departure - 100%
In Punta Arenas we stay at the traditional Hotel Isla Rey Jorge in double rooms. Due to its central location, the hotel is an ideal place to explore Punta Arenas. At Union Glacier Camp, we have a large dining and mess tent at our disposal. At Vinson BC Kobler & Partner have their own large mess tent where we prepare our meals together.
The international flight to Punta Arenas is not included in the expedition price. Kobler & Partner is happy to help you book a flight from/to Europe. Your mountain guide will meet you at the airport in Punta Arenas.
No visa is required for Antarctica and Chile.
Your passport has to be valid for at least six months after the return date of this trip.
Equipment List Vinson-South Pole-Combo
The special polar equipment for the Last Degree will be provided by the tour operator and is already included in the price. The equipment list will be sent to each member after the booking and will be discussed at the expedition meeting in Berne, Switzerland.
A small selection of the special polar material, which will be provided:
- Down Jacket or Down Suit for expeditions
- Primaloft Jacket or light Down Jacket
- Gore-Tex Jacket
- Soft-Shell Jacket
- Fleece Sweater or Fleece Jacket
- Trekking Trousers, light and long
- Soft-Shell Pant, warm
- Gore-Tex Trousers
- Down trousers or Down Suit
Underwear / T-Shirts
- Thermal-, resp. functional shirt, long sleeves
- Thermal-, resp. functional trousers, long
- Full-fingered gloves, warm
- Down mittens for expeditions
- Liner gloves, thin, silk or fleece
- Comfortable shoes (Running Shoes for Punta Arenas)
- Trekking boots
- Expedition boots, 8,000er model
- Trekking socks
- Mountain socks, thick and warm
- Down sleeping bag ( -40°C)
- Foam mat
- Down camp booty (nice to have)
- Pillow case (filled with the down jacket to serve as pillow)
Head-, Face- and Eye-Protection
- Glacier goggles (with nose-protection if possible)
- Ski goggles, high UV-protection (also protects from the wind)
- Baseball cap
- Beanie, warm
- Balaclava or face mask (wind-stopper or neoprene)
- Sunscreen, SPF 50
- Lip-protection, SPF 50
- Backpack approximately 60 l
- Rain cover for backpack
- Climbing garness, light
- Ice Axe, light
- Walking poles
- Crampons with anti-balling plates (customised to fit expedition boots)
- 2 Carabiners (light, wire gate)
- 3 HMS carabiners (light, screwgate)
- Ascender (jumar)
- Descender (Figure of 8 recommended)
- Cord, 5m, 7 mm (for the jumar system)
- Cord, 5m, 5 mm
- Sling 120 cm / Dyneema
- 1 Ice Screw (19 cm)
- Compression bags for down equipment
- Food utensils, light, for the high camps (bowl including cutlery)
- Water bottle with large opening (Nalgene)
- Thermos Bottle
- Pee bottle / plastic bags
- Headlamp (including spare batteries) and a small spare headlamp
- Pen knife or multitool/Leatherman
- Thermal pads for hands and feet
- Departure letter by K&P (contains final information)
- 2 Duffel bags 110 l (waterproof, available at K&P at a discount price for members)
- Cash for personal use and tips
- Credit card (MasterCard or Visa)
- Passport copy
- 2 Passport photographs
- Small medical kit (personal medication / compeed)
- Writing utensils
- Toilet case, washbag
- Towel (microfibre cloth)
- Hand disinfectant (50 ml)
- Ear plugs
- Tissues, wet wipes
- Photographic equipment
Expedition medical kit, radios, GPS, travelling literature and maps are carried by your Kobler & Partner mountain guide.
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