Winter 2020 / 2021
December 26, 2020 – January 9, 2021
January 6 – January 19, 2021


16 days
Grade: Advanced


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Sprawling over an 8-mile wide and 13-mile long massif, Mt. Vinson stands as the highest peak in Antarctica just 750 miles from the South Pole. Of the Seven Summits, Vinson Massif was the last to be discovered, the last to be named, and the last to be climbed. The austral summer offers a unique experience as alpinists wake, climb, and sleep, all throughout 24 hours of daylight. In 1966 an expedition with climbers from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation followed Nicholas Clinch to Vinson’s first summit.

Mount Vinson • Branscomb Shoulder • 16 Days

We will follow the standard route to the summit via the Branscomb Shoulder. Some sections can be steep and require the use of fixed ropes. Once we gain the upper glacier we will travel on gentler slopes before reaching the summit ridge. Due to the cold temperatures and frequent high winds, we will wait for good weather before attempting to summit. From the top of Antarctica, we will be able to see across the expansive continent.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Arrive Punta Arenas, Chile
Day 2 • Gear checks
Day 3 • Orientation briefing
Day 4 • Flight to Union Glacier, Antarctica
Day 5 • Vinson Basecamp • 6,900 ft
Day 6 • Carry to Camp 1 • 9,000 ft
Day 7 • Move to Camp 1
Day 8 • Carry to High Camp 12,400 ft
Day 9 • Rest Day
Day 10 • Move to High Camp
Day 11 • Mount Vinson • 16,050 ft
Day 12 • Descend and transfer to Union Glacier
Day 13 • Depart Antarctica
Day 14 • Extra Weather Day
Day 15 • Extra Weather Day
Day 16 • Depart Chile


Mount Vinson

Expedition begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile

Day 1 • Arrive Punta Arenas, Chile

Arrive Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport, Punta Arenas (PUQ). We allot an extra day to recover from jet lag and wait for any baggage that may have been waylaid.

Accommodations: Hotel in Punta Arenas

Day 2 • Gear Checks

After a group introductions we will launch into an in-depth gear check. We will then view continent specific regulations and overviews.

Accommodations: Hotel in Punta Arenas
Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Day 3 • Orientation

After breakfast the day begins with a trip briefing and orientation. We will then review continent specific regulations and overviews. This will be a combination of lectures and slide shows. Due to the remote nature of this trip we will review Leave No Trace principals. Our gear will also be weighed for our flight to Union Glacier.

Accommodations: Hotel in Punta Arenas
Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Day 4 • Flight to Union Glacier • Transfer to Vinson Basecamp • 6,900 feet

We will be on call for a flight to Union Glacier on the Antarctic continent. All luggage and gear that is not needed on the climb will be left at our hotel in Punta Arenas. Due to the weather patterns we will wait for the perfect window to fly. After arriving at Union Glacier, we will then transfer to a smaller aircraft and be flown to Vinson Basecamp, weather permitting.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 5 • Vinson Basecamp • 6,900 feet

We will settle into basecamp, rest and recover following our journey here. Gear will be sorted and packed onto sleds for our move to Camp 1 tomorrow.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 6 • Carry to Camp 1 • 9,000 feet

We ascend the low angle Branscomb Glacier to camp, pulling our gear and equipment on sleds to help lessen pack weight. This day we will be roped together to help prevent crevasse falls on glacier. Depending on the group, weather, or conditions we may choose to cache our gear and descend or camp.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 7 • Move to Camp 1 • 9,000 feet

This extra day is built in to help accommodate the needs of the group. If we cached equipment the following day we will re-ascend to Low Camp and spend the night, there. Conversely, if we camped at Low Camp yesterday we will acclimatize.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 8 • Carry to High Camp • 12,400 feet

We will carry a load of equipment to High Camp. This route utilizes fixed lines on a 35/40-degree slope. High winds can make this area very cold even during daylight hours.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 9 • Rest Day • 9,000 feet

If time and weather allow we will take a rest day here. We will do a day hike on glacier to help acclimatize.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 10 • Move to High Camp • 12,400 feet

We follow our tracks from the previous day, carrying lighter loads to High Camp. After an early dinner and summit talk we turn in for the night.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 11 • Summit Day • Mount Vinson • 16,050 feet

Again, depending on weather we will try and summit today. The route itself follows a valley glacier to the summit ridge. A short steeper section leads to the summit. From here we will have a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. Temperatures can range anywhere from -30 to 0 degrees on our 9-12-hour ascent. After summiting we return to High Camp for some much-needed hot drinks.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 12 • Descend to Vinson Basecamp • 6,900 feet

After packing up our camp we will descend the fixed lines down to Camp 1. Here we will load the remaining gear and equipment in our sleds and make our way down to Basecamp.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Day 13 • Flight to Union Glacier

Transfer from Union Glacier back to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Day 14 • Flight to Punta Arenas, Chile

Transfer to airport for flights home.

Day 15 – 16 • Depart Punta Arenas, Chile

These extra days are put aside for any unforeseeable weather or conditions on the upper mountain, as well as flight delays in Vinson Basecamp. While waiting for our flight to Union Glacier we will have time to tell stories and remanence about the climb.

Accommodations: Tented Camp
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Deposit and Payments

  • 25% deposit due at time of acceptance, due with application.
  • Balance due 120 days prior to start date.
  • The deposit and balance can be paid by check, wire transfer, or by credit card with a convenience fee of 4.0%

Price Includes

  • Scheduled land and airport transportation
  • Round trip airfare Punta Arenas – Antarctica
  • Round trip airfare Union Glacier – Vinson Basecamp
  • Hotels in Punta Arenas, Chile
  • Tented accommodations
  • Scheduled meals during the expedition
  • Professional mountain guide
  • Checked luggage up to 25kg for flights to/from Antarctica

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare and meals during travel
  • Non-scheduled airport transfers
  • Non-scheduled meals
  • Non-scheduled flights in Antarctica
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal gear
  • Personal snacks for trip
  • Satellite phone charges
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Single room supplement (hotels only) $500
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Early departure or delay fees
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool/ synthetic, one that covers the ears.
  • Buff or Neck Gaitor
  • Heavyweight Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields.
  • Goggles: Dark lenses to help with snow and wind.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: Two synthetic long-sleeve shirts.
  • Mid-layer Top: This is a synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: GORE-TEX© or a fully waterproof shell. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Insulated Jacket: Heavyweight 700+ fill down.
  • 8000 meter Expedition Down Suit: Insulated hood: 700+ fill down


  • Lightweight Gloves: One pair (WINDSTOPPER© is recommended)
  • Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.
  • Expedition Down Mittens w/ wrist straps: One pair
  • Handwarmers / toe warmers: 3 sets of each

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: Two pair. Synthetic, no cotton
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your Hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Insulated Pants: One pair of synthetic insulated pants with full side zips.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.


  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible. 8000 meter mountaineering boots are required.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to minus 40ᵒ fahrenheit).
  • Sleeping Pads: A full-length closed-cell foam pad and inflatable pad.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 70-100L pack with good support, adequate to carry personal, and group gear. The pack should fit properly, have a good waist belt, and be able to carry gear between 45-60 lbs.
  • 20L waterproof stuff sack
  • Duffle/zip Bag: One large size, transporting gear via sleds.
  • Duffle/zip Bag: One medium size, store non-mountain gear during the expedition.
  • Liner Bags: 2-4 Large plastic contractor bags.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice Axe: 55-65cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (4) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-locking Carabiners: (4) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Ascender: Left or right handed
  • Rappel/Delay device: Figure 8 recommended
  • Prussik Cord: 40 feet, 6mm perlon
  • Nylon Sling: (2) 60cm nylon slings


  • Water Bottle: Two, 1L wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©
  • Water Bottle Parkas: Two, fully insulated water bottle covers.

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs



Program Location:
Begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile

Visa/Entry Information:
A valid passport is required for American citizens to enter Chile. American citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Chile

Flight Travel Information:
Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport (PUQ), Punta Arenas, Chile

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the countries destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Mount Vinson Fitness & Training

Climbing Grade: Advanced   

As the highest point on the continent of Antarctica, Mount Vinson experiences some of the coldest and windiest weather on the planet. Expedition self-care and experience is key to success on this peak. Be prepared to carry packs up to 50 lbs. while pulling sleds up to 100 lbs. Experience with fixed lines is ideal.

Prior to the expedition we recommend taking at minimum a mountaineering course and climbing other high-altitude peaks.

Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting Mount Vinson.

  • Northwest Climb (Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan)
  • Glacier Mountaineering Course
  • Aconcagua
  • Denali

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the skill level required for this climb?

Though this peak is not as technical as some others, it is important that climbers have done trips in places like Alaska or similar big mountain areas. Experience roped on glacier is paramount. Technical skills like fixed line use are required. Also, be aware that due to the harsh, cold environment on the Antarctic continent, it is imperative that climbers have a high level of self-care and self-sufficient.

What will my pack weight be?

Be prepared to carry at least 55 lbs, as well as pulling a sled on the lower glaciers.

What if I arrive early or the trip ends early / or late?

If you arrive early we are happy to book extra nights at the hotel. If the trip finishes earlier or later than expected be prepared by purchasing travel insurance or a flexible return ticket.

How much extra cash should I bring?

If you plan on purchasing non-scheduled services bring between $750 – $1000 USD in cash. Remember, gratuities for guide and camp staff are not included. It is customary to tip guides 10% of the trip cost.