Mt. Vinson

Mt. Vinson © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA, Tiles: Mapbox
... in the middle of the Antarctic ice.
  • An expedition to the most remote parts of planet earth.
  • Extreme weather conditions but no great technical difficulties.
  • Absolutely stunning landscape.
  • Mount Vinson – one of the "Seven Summits."
  • After 10 successful Vinson expeditions, Kobler & Partner have established their status as an ANI «Preferred Guiding Company».

The Antarctic – an almost untouched continent with many superlatives: It is the coldest, windiest, driest, most remote and least accessed continent; or to put it differently, it is the most extreme place on earth. The Antarctic continent stretches 14 million km2, 98% of which are buried underneath a 2000m thick layer of ice.
Mount Vinson in the Ellsworth Mountains was first scaled in 1966. Even today, expeditions to these latitudes are rare. They require an immense degree of personal strength: Cold, wind, “white out”, patience and the consciousness of being in complete seclusion are just a few of the attributes of ascending Mount Vinson...

Interest for Antarctica arose in 1775, when reports from the English explorer James Cook about large seal colonies started the abhorrent seal hunting in the southern hemisphere. Explorations of the Antarctic inland weren't made until the 20th century. They culminated tragically in Amundsen and Scott's race to the South Pole in 1911/12. After World War II, geopolitical and strategic aspects of the Antarctic became of interest; but thankfully, the Antarctic Treaty System and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1991, leave hope that this last paradise will remain intact...

The Vinson Massif, with its highest point Mount Vinson, lies in the Sentinel Range, a mountain range in the west of the Antarctic. The range, surrounded by glaciers, stretches 185km northwest to south, covering a width of 50km. It is the highest mountain range of the Antarctic.

At 4892m, Mount Vinson is the highest mountain of the Antarctic continent, and one of the Seven Summits. It was discovered only in 1957, by the US air force. The first ascent was made nine years later, on December 17 in 1966, making Mount Vinson the last of the Seven Summits to be conquered.

The difficulties of this ascent are not of technical nature but mainly due to the remoteness (only 1200 km to the South Pole) as well as the extreme cold and storms which can occur.
Starting point of “all” expeditions to Mount Vinson is the Union Glacier base camp, about 80km from Mount Vinson. It is the starting point of nearly every expedition to the Antarctic main land. The camp is set up every year for the Antarctic season, a short time period of 4 months.

Is lies 3030km from the South American continent, at the foot of the spectacular Siefker Ridge, a furrowed, 11 kilometres long mountain ridge.
Thanks to the Ellsworth Mountains, which shield the area from the katabatic winds (fall winds, which occur when the cold air from the inland ice blows down the steep coast), there is a blue (snow-free) surface, serving as a natural runway for the planes from Punta Arenas.

Travel Programme

Day 1–2: Flight to Punta Arenas
Our adventure starts with flying to Punta Arenas, the southernmost city of Chile. From Europe, the journey to Punta Arenas takes 24-30 hours.
After a short drive to our hotel, we'll meet our mountain guide, who will have arrived three days earlier to make preparations for the expedition.

Day 3: Punta Arenas
Today, we'll make last preparations for the expedition and obtain the obligatory briefing with the flight operator – this will also give us a good idea of what conditions we may expect on the icy continent.

Day 4: Flight to the Union Glacier
Finally, our “true” journey starts! An Illyushin will bring us to the Union Glacier camp. After a five hour flight, we'll experience the impressive landing on the unique Blue-Ice Runway.
The Union Glacier camp lies at an altitude of 800m on the Antarctic mainland (S 79° 46’ / W 83°15’). It's where we'll spend our first night in a sleeping bag on Antarctic ground. Though, there isn't going to be much of a night, for the sun never sinks below the horizon, we're in the ban of the midnight sun!
The camp is the only tourist station on the continent, serving as the base for different activities.

Day 5: Union Glacier–Vinson Massif
From the Union Glacier camp, an interesting 40-minute flight in a Twin Otter or a Cessna will bring us to the Vinson base camp at 2134m. During the approach, we'll have an amazing view onto the entire 13km of the Vinson Massif.

Day 6–14: Mount Vinson
Over the course of the next 9 days, our goal is clear: summitting Mount Vinson. Two high camps are needed for the ascent; the first one at 2800m, the second one at 3000m. From a technical viewpoint, the most difficult part will be a pillar in between the two camps. The stretch is secured with fixed ropes.
Surrounded by the fantastic scenery of the Ellsworth mountains, we'll realise how unique this expedition is.
Depending on how we advance at Mount Vinson, our return to the Glacier Union camp may take place sooner or later.

Day 15: Flight back to Punta Arenas
Packing our things into the Illyushin, we'll fly back to civilisation. After our experiences in the Antarctic, the hotel in Punta Arenas offers some well appreciated comforts, and dinner will seem like a feast...

Day 16–17 Tag: Punta Arenas (spare days)
Since the flight from and to the Union Glacier camp depends highly on the weather conditions, these spare days are indispensable.
If we are able to fly back from the Antarctic according to plan, we'll have many options for excursions in Punta Arenas, such as visiting the near-by Pinguinera (a place, where penguins hatch) or exploring parts of the Paine National Park.

Day 18–19: Flight back from Punta Arenas
We'll fly back to Europe without the mountain guide, who will stay in Punta Arenas to restore the equipment.
We'll arrive in Europe on Day 19, having a unique story to tell.

An expedition in the Antarctic is one of a kind, with its own rules and customs. No other place on earth features such extreme weather conditions. Thus, a defined programme can never be more than an ideal case scenario. There might be weather-related waiting (of considerable length), putting to the test everyone's mental resilience. We plan a time frame of 11 days (from/to Punta Arenas) for reaching Mount Vinson, which in general is sufficient.

First come, first fly
This couldn't be truer for the Antarctic.
The flights from the Union Glacier camp to Vinson base camp take place in the order of payments received.
Kobler & Partner guarantee for quick payment handling. However, we can only do so if you adhere to the communicated payment deadlines.

Since most of the travel package price are third-party costs paid in USD, the entire price will be charged in USD.

Please note that for this Kobler & Partner offer, the cancellation fee is scalar:

  • Up to the 120th day before the travel 10% of the total price
  • From the 119th to the 90th day before the travel 50% of the total price
  • As of the 89th day before the travel 100% of the total price

Payment deadlines:

  • upon registration: USD 5000 (non-refundable)
  • July: USD 25000
  • August: outstanding payment (dependent on the number of participants)
Included services
  • Organisation of the entire expedition
  • All formalities, fees and permits
  • Flight Punta Arenas–Union Glacier and back
  • Flight Union Glacier–Vinson base camp and back
  • Information meeting at Bächli Bergsport, Bern
  • Overnight stay in a 4-star hotel in Punta Arenas; twin rooms (2 nights before departure to the Antarctic)
  • Half-board during the 2 days in Punta Arenas (before departure to the Antarctic)
  • Full-board during the entire stay at the Antarctic
  • Fresh food at Union Glacier camp and Vinson base camp
  • Special high camp food in the camps at the mountain
  • Good, private group tent at Vinson base camp
  • Powerful Coleman cooker and cooking utensils at Vison base camp
  • High mountain stoves (MSR, fuel) and cooking utensils for the high camps
  • Group equipment, e.g. snow saws, sleds, safety material, etc.
  • Shovels, snow saws, probes, etc. for building camps
  • Kitchen tent in the camps
  • Accommodation in twin tents (Type North Face VE25)
  • First-aid kit/ pharmacy
  • Special, high-performance walkie-talkies (1 walkie-talkie per rope party)
  • Satellite phone, call charges excluded
  • Postcards
  • Mountain guide with experience in leading expeditions
Excluded services
  • Flight Europe–Punta Arenas–Europe (flights from Europe can be booked with Kobler & Partner)
  • Insurance (see "insurance")
  • Individual beverages in Punta Arenas
  • Additional overnight stays in Punta Arenas (weather related)
  • Personal medication (see K&P handbook)
  • Additional costs arising due to changes in the programme
  • Personal, obligatory insurance for travels in Antarctica (coverage: min. USD 300000)
Support

The Mount Vinson expedition can very well be combined with South Pole expedition – we are happy to offer you further information on this option.

Equipment & Checklist
See complete equipment & checklist for this travel

For this travel, you will need the following equipment:

Altitude

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4 897m.

Required Experience Level

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Required experience according to K&P.

Seriousness

On the Kobler scale, the seriousness of a travel can reach from A (high) to D (low).

B