Imagine yourself on the summit of Mount Vinson at 16,050’, the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the coveted Seven Summits. Mount Vinson lies in the aptly named Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, deep in the interior of Antarctica. It was first summited on December 18, 1966 and for many years did not see another ascent due to the challenges of accessing its remote location. You’ll ascend the Branscomb Shoulder Route which has become the “standard route”. It involves climbing gentle glaciers, 40° snow-covered slopes, an exposed high plateau, and a spectacular summit ridge. The rate of ascent and daily plan will be geared toward the safety and success of your climb. To ascend Mount Vinson is to challenge yourself on a mountain like no other, in one of the most remote regions on Earth. Majestic snow-covered peaks stand guard over vast glaciers below and in the distance, snow meets sky along a noticeably curved horizon. The summit is a moment to savor. All of the challenges you will face to get there only highlight the vast beauty before you and the sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving the extraordinary.

SUMMARY

TRIP TYPE: Climb

ACTIVITY LEVEL: Strenuous

TRIP LENGTH: 14 days/13 nights

SPACES AVAILABLE: 10

TRIP COST: Contact us for pricing

HIGHLIGHTS

ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive to Punta Arenas, Chile

  • A WWTrek will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel for the night
  • Overnight: Cabo de Hornos or comparable
  • Meals Included: D

Day 2: Preparation Day

  • Today we will make sure we are ready for the adventure ahead!
    • Orientation and Gear Check
    • Weigh our loads and pack
    • Saftey briefing
  • Overnight: Cabo de Hornos or comparable
  • Meals: B/L/D

Day 3: Fly to Antarctica

  • We will fly aboard a chartered jet to Union Glacier and take our first steps on Antarctica
  • Transfer to Union Glacier Camp
  • Overnight: Union Glacier Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 4: Vinson Base Camp | Acclimatization Day

  • Transfer to Vinson Base Camp via ski aircraft
  • Acclimatization hike
  • Overnight: Vinson Base Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 5: Training and Acclimatization Day

  • Acclimatization hike
  • Overnight: Vinson Base Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 6: Base Camp to Low Camp

  • Follow the gradual rise of the Branscomb Glacier to low camp
  • Overnight: Low Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 7: Acclimatization | Knutzen Peak (11,066')

  • After a late breakfast, embark on an excursion to a nearby viewpoint where you may visit the lower section of the fixed lined for additional training and familiarization
  • Depending on the group’s ability, you may be able to make an ascent of Knutzen Peak
  • Overnight: Low Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 8: Low Camp to High Camp

  • Ascend to high camp carrying all of your equipment in backpacks
  • Enjoy fantastic views of Mount Shinn and the glaciers below
  • Overnight: High Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 9: Rest Day | Alternative Summit Day

  • Rest day
  • Option for summit, depending on the weather
  • Overnight: High Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 10: Summit Day!

  • Your team will make its summit attempt on this day!
  • The views from the summit are breathtaking: Mount Gardner, Tyree, Epperly, and Shinn dominate the foreground, surrounded by impressive peaks that rise from the vast ice sheet below. Here, at the top of Antarctica, the true scale and majesty of the continent are overwhelmingly apparent. Take time for photos and savor the experience before retracing your steps to High Camp
  • Overnight: High Camp
  • Meals: B/L/D

Day 11: Descent to Base Camp

  • Today we descend to Vinson Base Camp, re-tracing your route down the fixed ropes and along the Branscomb Glacier
  • At Base Camp, you’ll celebrate your summit with a hearty celebration meal and toast to your team!
  • Overnight: Base Camp
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 12: Return to Union Glacier

  • Vinson Base Camp will stay in close contact with Union Glacier Camp to identify the best “weather window” for your return flight
  • Depending on flights, you may have at least one day at the end of your expedition to explore more of Union Glacier, enjoy a hot shower, and celebrate with your team!
  • Overnight: Union Glacier
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 13: Return to Union Glacier (weather window day)

  • Alternate day to return to Union Glacier, based on the weather
  • Overnight: Union Glacier
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

Day 14: Meet Group at Union Glacier Runway for Ski the Last Degree | or international departure

  • If you plan to Ski The Last Degree with WWTrek today you will meet the rest of your group
  • Or International Departure
  • Overnight: Union Glacier
  • Meals Included: B/L/D

TRAVEL NOTES

Best Time of Year to Travel:

Antarctica is only accessible for tourism from November to March, during the southern hemisphere summer. Although these summer days have 24 hours of daylight, you can expect temperature highs in the 50’s(F). These temperatures feel welcome compared to the winter months, when the sun never shines and temperatures can plummet below -40˚F.

February through March are when many penguin chicks can be spotted.

Arrivals & Departures:

This trip will begin and end in Punta Arenas, Chile. After trip preparation, the whole group will then fly into the ALE base on Union Glacier (included).

Recommended Flights:

There are many flight options into and out of Puntas Arenas Airport (PUQ). WWTrek has an expert travel agent that can help you with all of your travel arrangements. We utilize Danny Genung at Harr Travel to book all of our flights. He can be reached at: danny@harrtravel.com or 909.266.0117. The benefit of using a travel agent is in the event of itinerary changes, the travel agent will find the best flight connections, and land arrangements, for you. Though third-party travel websites are convenient, they are not recommended, due to instability in the itineraries.

We recommend that you protect your flight with travel insurance and a refundable ticket.

Customs, Visas, and Immigration:

U.S. Citizens are not required to obtain a visa for travel in Chile. Since no country owns Antarctic, no visas are required.

*Please Note: You will need a passport valid for more than six months after your trip. Make two copies of your passport. Leave one at hime and bring the other with you to Chile in case of an emergency. Ensure you provide a color copy of your passport to WWTrek 90-days prior to your departure date. Carry two extra passport photos when you travel.

Travel Insurance:

We recommend purchasing travel insurance, which will protect you in the event of an unanticipated cancellation of your trip, and depending on the plan you choose, can refund all the costs already paid (including flights, trip costs, and your payment to us). Please note: you must purchase this plan within 14 days of your deposit payment. There are three plans that we recommend choosing from: Cavalry, Rip Cord or Harbor. Please send us a copy of your plan if you choose to purchase one.

Accommodations:

We will begin and end this trip with nights at a beautiful hotel in Punta Arenas. Once we land on the Antarctica Continent we will be staying in top-of-the-line expedition tents. Each day of the expedition we will work as a team to set up tents, build protective snow walls, and contribute to snow melting and meal preparations.

Transportation:

All of our flights are operated by Antarctica Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), which is the sole operator of aircraft access into the region. We will fly on a Llyushin 76 aircraft from Punta Arenas to the Union Glacier on Antarctica. From the base we will take a ski-equipped Basler (ex DC-3) aircraft into the heart of Antarctica. During the expedition we will travel on skis, pulling sleds.

Gratuities:

Gratuities are a symbol of a job well done. Your guides will take care of any service style tips throughout the trip.

WWTrek Staff: At the trails-end you will have the opportunity to contribute to a group tipping pool that will be presented as we say our goodbyes. 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Continent:

Antarctica is governed by the 1958 Antarctic Treaty, which establishes the continent as a cooperative international research zone. There are no true cities or towns on the continent, though there are about two dozen research stations and one private seasonally operated camp. The laws of each nation apply at their research station.

Population:

Depending on the time of year, the total population of all research stations combined range from 1000-4000.

Flora & Fauna

This is the only continent on earth with no significant plant life and little animal life. With no native land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians most of life lies below the ice sheets and in the frigid waters surrounding the continent. This continent is most notably known for the adorable waddling birds, penguins are the most prevalent life to be found on the Antarctic ice sheets. There are no polar bears in Antarctica, those are only found at the north pole.

Time Zone:

The ALE base uses the time zone of Punta Arenas, Chile (UTC -3)

HUMAN OUTREACH PROJECT

One of World Wide Trekking’s founding principles is giving back to the places we travel. Through our sister non-profit, Human Outreach Project, we are making a difference in lives around the globe, and connecting trekkers with voluntourism opportunities in local communities.

Although we don’t have projects in this part of the world, there are always opportunities to get involved and find a meaningful way to engage with the local community. We would love to talk to you about custom voluntourism and humanitarian opportunities that you can incorporate into your WWTrek trip. The find out more, go to HumanOutreachProject.org or contact us.