re-sized mountain of ice

The mountain of Ice

We have reported on Aconcagua and Denali/McKinley – now it is Vinson’s turn – the highest mountain on the highest continent –  the mountain of ice.

You not only have to have a large budget to climb this mountain – it will cost you a minimum of $30,000 – but you also have a limited time in the year when it is possible to climb. Situated on Antarctica, about 1,000 kms from the south pole, there is only a narrow window of opportunity, December, January and February when an attempt on the summit is possible.

At 4,892 metres or 16,050 feet it is the second lowest of the 7 sisters and it is not considered to be a technically difficult climb. However you do want to have several years experience that includes peaks of over 4268m (14,000ft) and you must know the techniques of self arrest, belays, anchors, crampons and how to use an ice axe.

Summit ridge

The stepping off point is Punta Arenas (South America) and then on to Anarctica with a 6 hour flight to Patriot hills, the base for Vinson climbs. From there it is a 1 hour flight by Twin Otter to the Vinson Massif basecamp (7,000 ft). You then ascend the Branscomb Glacier for about 2 miles to Camp 1 (9,100 ft.) The next step is 1,000 ft higher at Camp 2 (10,100 ft.) at the foot of a large headwall. Camp 3 (12,300 ft.) is reached by climbing moderate snow slopes to the col between Vinson Massif and Shinn (15,311 ft.) After 1 or 2 days for acclimatisation summit day begins with a 3 mile traverse over       snow slopes to gain the summit ridge and then the summit 3,000 ft. higher.

Summit day on Vinson

The video below from rexpem gives you a good idea of what to expect when and if you get there. Like we said not the most technical of climbs in the sense of a mountaineering challenge but in terms of logistics it is not easy. And should the weather close in you can expect temperatures as low as -40 degrees and this is enough to keep most normal people in their bivouac.

The video is of Rex Pemberton who is the youngest Australian to have actually completed the seven summits.

From Antarctica we shall go to Africa – from the freezing cold to the dusty warmth but at over 19,000 feet even Africa’s highest mountain wears a sugared peak.

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