Vinson Massif Expedition

Location: Antartica

Elevation: 4,892 meters


People travel far and about among the widely inhabited and civilized locations of the world. Mountaineers would buckle themselves on a ride to climb Asia’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, while other hikers would book a flight to Kilimanjaro for Africa’s highest peak. But little of most anyone’s knowledge is that climbers also venture to the remote and frigid Antarctica to reach the summit of its tallest landforms, the Vinson Massif.

One of the Seven Summits, Mount Vinson is 4,892 meters tall, above sea level. Belonging to the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, Vinson Massif consists of Mount Vinson and five other towering structures.  

Antarctica’s Massif is 21 kilometers long and 13 kilometers wide. Overlooking the Ronne Ice Shelf, it is situated approximately 1,200 kilometers from the South Pole. 

History of Vinson Massif


It was in 1935 that US aviator Lincoln Ellsworth spotted the Ellsworth Mountains from high above. It was more than 25 years later that people began exploring and hiking up the mountains. In 1958, the Vinson Massif was discovered.


 From the last month of 1996 to the beginning of 1967, Nicholas Clinch led the American Antarctic Expedition. Mount Vinson was scaled and had its summit reached for the first time.


The Vinson Massif was named after Carl G. Vinson. Vinson back then was a firm and encouraging proponent for the exploration of this continent. He also served as a US Representative and served the Congress for around 26 years.


On November 1, 2006, the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names declared that Vinson Massif and Mount Vinson were separate entities. 


What to Prepare for the Climb


Climbing Mount Vinson and all the other mountains of the Vinson Massif require hikers to have a satisfactory mountaineering background and that drive for adventure. Although it isn’t technically challenging as many other peaks, what poses a challenge for hikers is the extreme weather conditions and environment. 


Mountaineers would have to bring quality crampons, ropes, and ice axes. Bringing the right equipment is critical for a successful climb on Mount Vinson. Physical Fitness is a must. 


Conditioning oneself for the frigid environment and towering altitude is also vital. From strong winds and freezing temperatures that drop to minus 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the weather makes it risky. Hikers should expect that the terrains would be steep and that they should be able to descend and ascend fixed lines on their own. 


Some papers need to be accomplished before beginning the trip towards the Vinson Massif.


When to Climb and its Duration

Most hikers book their travels from around December to February, which consists of what is called the Antarctic Summer. This is one of the best times to hike there because all the other months have unforgiving weather conditions. During the winter period, it becomes surpassingly cold that the sea freezes, and at maximum, the frozen sea can cover an area much higher than the continent itself.


For hiking up Mount Vinson, most climbers take the “Normal Route” up the Branscomb Glacier, which can take 10 to 20 days to hike.


Cost of the Climb

An average of $32,000 to $43,000 US Dollars is spent to climb the Vinson Massif. Although this mountain is the second smallest among the Seven Summits, the guides are much more expensive, reaching about $42,000 US Dollars. However, if the costs were to be aligned in the unit “Cost per Day,” Vinson Massif is, in fact, the most expensive at $2,153.85 US Dollars a day. 


Besides securing gear of high caliber, climbers need to accumulate a good amount of savings for Antarctica’s travel. This continent is not the most visited area, and so flights are limited. Other groups of people have booked flights to Chile, then ride a jet to the Union Glacier Camp and finally end the travel to Vinson after traveling through air to the Vinson Base Camp. 



Reasons to Climb Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif gives its visitors a novel view. It is a very distinct environment they are not familiar with. People who are used to the city have always seen gray and black painted against the walls of buildings, and on the roads, they drive on. But in Antarctica, almost everything is an ethereal white. The panoramic shots one can take in this place are bound to be spectacular. 


Climbing Vinson Massif exposes hikers to the most unaccommodating weather conditions. To have met this extreme climate allows climbers to become more accustomed to severe instances when the forecast isn’t perfect. 


Lastly, not everyone can mark a step on this infrequently visited continent, much less climb its tallest peak. To be able to surround oneself in the uniquely spectacular ambiance and conditions of Antarctica is a story that leaves the listener and even the storyteller in awe.