Climb Details

Cost:
Deposit:
Length:
Difficulty:
Type:

$38900
$5000
23 day(s)
Level 4 difficulty 
Mountaineering

Availability



Upcoming Climbs

November 22, 2014 - FULL

Guide(s):

Dave Hahn

December 3, 2014

Guide(s):

Dave Hahn


"I would like to say that I was very impressed with the overall organization and the ability of our guides to adapt to every situation and to ensure the comfort and safety of the whole group."

— Maria V. | Read More Testimonials

Located only 660 nautical miles from the South Pole, Vinson Massif (16,067') is the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the renowned "Seven Summits."  Expedition highlights include:

  • Scale the "top of the bottom of the world" - the highest mountain in Antarctica and one of the most remote mountains on earth.
  • Fly across the Drake Passage and over the sprawling icy interior of Antarctica to reach Vinson Base Camp.
  • Climb Vinson with Dave Hahn, the most experienced and widely regarded Vinson guide in the world.
  • Improve your chances of reaching the summit with an itinerary that includes proper acclimatization and the flexibility to accommodate for the uncertainties of Antarctica’s weather.
  • Benefit from RMI’s excellent organization, support, and carefully planned and outfitted Vinson expedition: all the small advantages that add up to a more enjoyable experience.
  • Take part in an RMI adventure to Antarctica and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.

Vinson Summit Day

Climbed for the first time in 1966, Vinson still sees very few visitors and remains a pristine and majestic peak. To reach this remote area of the world, we fly from Punta Arenas, Chile and land on the blue ice runway of Union Glacier. A short flight then brings us to Vinson Base Camp at the foot of the Branscomb Glacier in the Ellsworth Mountains. From here we ascend the Branscomb Glacier and climb the headwall on Vinson, setting up two camps along the way. Summit Day is one of the most spectacular of any big climb in the world: as we ascend from our High Camp (12,400') the views of the immense ice sheets which surround the Massif gradually come into view, the final steep push up the summit ridge is exhilarating but not technically difficult, and standing atop this remote summit a climber looks for miles in all directions onto a landscape virtually untouched by humans.

THE RMI DIFFERENCE

When your goal is the highest peak on the Antarctic continent, experience matters. Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Nowhere is this more important than for an expedition to Vinson where the remote and inhospitable landscape necessitate that all the finer points are addressed. Our trip preparation before departure and when you return takes care of the details for you, from hotels to airport transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.

Our Vinson Massif expeditions are led by Dave Hahn and RMI’s foremost U.S. guides. Dave holds the world record for Vinson Massif - he has reached the summit an impressive 31 times. Dave and RMI’s guides bring years of climbing experience on not only Vinson but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated.

Vinson Base CampClimbing on the Vinson Massif

SAFETY

"I would like to say that I was very impressed with the overall organization and the ability of our guides to adapt to every situation and to ensure the comfort and safety of the whole group."
— Maria V.

Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb of Mt. Vinson without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Vinson. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, flexibility in our itinerary, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Additional resources are stationed at Base Camp and comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the climb.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

Vinson Massif Equipment List

Whittaker Mountaineering Whittaker Mountaineering

The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2014.


Pack & Bag Guides' Pick

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2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.


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BACKPACK: An 80-90 liter pack is the recommended size for this climb.  Your pack  must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and group load (kitchen equipment). A separate summit pack isn't necessary.


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DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.


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SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated to -20° to -40° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is preferred, but not mandatory.
The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range. Using two sleeping bags together is not recommended.


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SLEEPING PAD - CLOSED FOAM: A second full-length or 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. This pad is used in combination with the first sleeping pad.


Technical Gear Guides' Pick

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ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.


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CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.


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2 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.


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3 NON-LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for pack ditch loop, etc.


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HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.


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CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.


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AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.


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TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.


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MECHANICAL ASCENDER: For traveling on fixed ropes. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.


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15 ' PERLON CORD: 7 mm cordelette in one continuous length.


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PERLON CORD: Two 6' lengths of 6mm cordelette.


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PERLON CORD: Three 5' lengths of 6mm cordelette.


Head Guides' Pick

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WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.


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BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.


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2 GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.


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GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.


HEADLAMP IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THIS TRIP


Hands

Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.


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HEAVY WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.


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2 PAIR WORK GLOVES: Medium weight insulated gloves for climbing and working around camp. These should be both durable and dexterous enough to allow you to perform activities like setting up or taking down tents while wearing them.


Down Insulation Guides' Pick

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DOWN PARKA WITH ATTACHED HOOD: An 8,000-meter down parka with attached hood.

 
 
Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka

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DOWN PANT: An 8,000-meter down pant.

 
Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Pant

Upper Body

We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.


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LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.


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RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood.  We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.


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SPORTS BRA: We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.


Lower Body

We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


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CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.


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RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.


Feet Guides' Pick

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MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: A new breed of composite boot like the Millet Everest or an expedition-style plastic double boot in combination with a full overboot is mandatory. Price is the best indicator. Though expensive, the function of footwear is of crucial importance. Select a brand's "top of the line" model and it should be sufficient. The boot needs to be roomy enough to allow for good circulation. Anticipate a sock combination when sizing them (single sock, liner and sock, or two heavy socks on each foot). Wear the boots as often as possible before the climb, to determine proper fit, comfort and performance. It is recommended that you keep your boots in your carry-on luggage for all of your commercial flights in case your luggage is mis-directed.


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OVERBOOTS: Expedition overboots add significant warmth, especially at high altitude. All-in-one mountaineering boots do not need the added insulation of overboots.


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LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.

 
Garmont Zenith Trail
 
La Sportiva Exum Pro
M:

W:

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BOOTIES: Goose down or synthetic fill. Booties can be worn inside of the overboots while walking around camp, which allows an opportunity to dry out inner boots.


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4 PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.


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GAITERS: A knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots, will be needed for protection from snow, mud, and catching your crampons on loose clothing. These are not necessary with all-in-one boot / gaiter models.


Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick

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LIP BALM: We recommend SPF 15 or higher.


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SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.


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MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


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2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.


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2 INSULATED WATER BOTTLE COVERS: These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.


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2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.


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LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.


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CAMERA


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LIGHTER


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WATCH with alarm and light: Altimeter models are popular.


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SLEEPING MASK


Travel Clothes

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CASUAL PANTS


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SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.


Toilet Articles

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TOOTHBRUSH


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HAND SANITIZER(S): Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.


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PEE BOTTLE: 1 to 1 1/2 quart size


Personal First Aid Kit

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BAND-AIDS


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ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL


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BLISTER TREATMENT

 
Dr. Scholl's Blister Cushions and Moleskin
 
Spenco 2nd Skin

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ANTACIDS


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IMODIUM (ANTI-DIARRHEA)


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PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)


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SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE


Personal Medications

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ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.


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TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain


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ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness


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DEXAMETHAZONE: For HACE.


Utensils Guides' Pick

Optional Items

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CLEANSING FACE WIPES


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BABY POWDER


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READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL


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iPOD or MP3 PLAYER


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THERMOS: One-half liter capacity, maximum.


Travel Documents

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PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.


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COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.


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COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY


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2 EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS


Pre-Trip Checklist

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Purchase travel insurance.


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Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.


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Purchase airplane tickets.


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Reserve rental equipment.


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Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!


Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, group cooking equipment, climbing ropes, avalanche probes and shovels, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).

Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.


 

When should I book my return flight?

Airfare should be booked to depart Punta Arenas two weeks after the scheduled trip end. When you return to Punta Arenas, you can reschedule your return flight at the ticket counter or over the phone. Depending on the airline, a change of date penalty is usually charged at this time. We have found scheduling a future date usually works better than an open-ended ticket or missing an early return date.

How long is the flight from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier? How far from Union Glacier to Vinson Base Camp?

The flight to Union Glacier, Antarctica requires approximately five hours. The flight, crossing Drake Passage and the Antarctic Circle, is aboard a Russian Illuyshin cargo plane and lands on a blue ice runway at Union Glacier.

If the weather allows, we will continue for the one-hour flight on a Twin Otter ski-equipped plane to Vinson Base Camp, located at 7,200' on the Branscomb Glacier.

Is a down suit is necessary?

A down suit is not necessary, though a few climbers do prefer it. For most climbers, an 8,000-meter down parka with attached hood in combination with 8,000-meter down pant is the preferred option because it offers the most versatility when climbing.

Why no headlamp?

Vinson is located very near the South Pole and thus, during the southern hemisphere summer, the sun will be above the horizon 24 hours a day.

Will I need to pull a sled?

Typically the guides and a few (not all) climbers will pull sleds.

Will we see penguins? I've heard that Antarctica is teeming with animals. Will there be any wildlife?

Penguins can be seen near Punta Arenas. Should there be a flying delay to the continent, we can make time for an outing to view them.

While the coast of Antarctica is a popular cruising destination because of the wildlife, the interior part of the continent is significantly colder and thus is devoid of all life. While an odd, lost bird may make an appearance from time to time as it passes through the Ellsworth Mountains, the Vinson Massif is nearly a sterile environment, hundreds of miles from the continent's edge and even farther from open water.

How cold will it be?

At Union Glacier, temperatures might hover around 0 to +20 F, but there will be shelter available. At Vinson Base, the temperatures will likely be -10 to +10 F. On a typical summit day, temperatures are likely to range from -35 F to -20 F. If the wind is not blowing and the sun is shining, summit temperatures can be surprisingly comfortable. Most of our climbing activities are planned so as to take advantage of the sun's rays. While the sun is not setting on Vinson during the climbing season, it does creep behind the mountain from time to time.

How hard is the climb?

The climbing itself is similar to the glaciated terrain one encounters on either Denali or Mt. Rainier. Packs are generally lighter than on a typical Denali trip, but heavier than for an alpine-style ascent of Rainier. What makes Vinson difficult are the cold temperatures and the remote location. Many experienced climbers are surprised by the difficulty of summit day. This is partly because summit day is long and cold and at high altitudes.

Why does this expedition cost so much?

The logistical complications of such a trip are profound. Consider what it takes to station aircraft, personnel and fuel at such odd places on the planet. Then consider what it takes to do the same thing safely and in an environmentally friendly manner. Many have presumed that the costs for such a trip would come down through the years, but the reality is that such costs generally rise.

What is the food like on the mountain?

Please see our Food details for an example of meals while on the mountain.

What is the pace like?

We travel at an appropriate speed to cover the distance we need for the day without going too quickly or too slowly. While the actual distances are relatively short, the altitudes to which we travel are high and the climbing can be very challenging. The adventure as a whole, and certainly the days when we are carrying heavy loads, is generally characterized as strenuous.

What are the toilets like?

At Union Glacier, there are enclosed toilet facilities. At Vinson Base Camp, there are outdoor latrines. On the mountain, solid waste is captured in W.A.G. (waste alleviating gel) bags while liquid waste is concentrated in "pee-holes" in designated areas. This necessitates the use of pee bottles while climbing and transporting your liquid waste to the nearest disposal site.

How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?

Antarctica is the most remote continent on earth. It should not be expected to remain in constant contact with your home without incurring significant cost. At Union Glacier, you can purchase minutes to use on an ALE supplied satellite phone. On the mountain, you will have to arrange to bring your own personal satellite phone. RMI guides carry a satellite phone for emergency use.

Should I bring a cell phone, smart phone or a satellite phone?

A satellite phone is the only way to send/receive calls and data on the continent of Antarctica. Satellite phone rental is available through Remote Satellite Systems International.In Punta Arenas, a cell phone set up for international use will work.

Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?

Yes, but if you wish to take it up on the mountain you will certainly need to recharge it once in a while using a personal solar charger.