The Rainbow Summits Project


Vinson Massif

vinson photo by drew ludwig“[Antarctica] is as close as you will ever get to another planet without leaving this one.
—Phil Ershler, director, International Mountain Guides

Background Information:

Bathed in perpetual sunlight during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer (December-January), Antarctica’s highest peak is Vinson Massif at 4,892m (16,050ft) above sea level. Located in the Ellsworth Mountains 1,200km (750mi) from the South Pole, the mountain is undoubtedly the most remote of the Seven Summits. Vinson was first ascended in 1963 by a group of 10 scientists who used the traditional west side. The east side was not successfully climbed until 2001.

Climbing Information:

The technical difficulty of Vinson Massif is not high—roughly approximate to that of Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, the tremendously cold temperatures and extreme weather can be a major issue for climbers. Furthermore, because of its location close to the South Pole, the altitude can feel several thousand feet higher. Since it was first summited in 1966, about 1,500 climbers have attempted to climb Vinson Massif.

Fun Facts:

  • Vinson is the coldest of the Seven Summits, with temperatures averaging -30˚ C (-20˚ F) in the summer months.
  • The peak was named after a U.S. Congressman from Georgia named Carl Vinson.
  • The 2001 first ascent of Vinson’s east side was featured in a PBS documentary called “Mountain of Ice.” The expedition included an all star cast of climbers including noted author Jon Krakauer (who wrote Into Thin Air about the 1996 Everest Disaster), famed mountaineer Conrad Anker, and renowned mountain guide Dave Hahn.
  • Non-traditional foods like steak and lobster can be brought on Vinson expeditions, as the food can remain frozen in Antarctica’s subzero temperatures.

Cason’s Climb:

Cason successfully climbed Vinson Massif with Mountain Trip, summiting December 12th, 2012.

Vinson photo by Drew Ludwig

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Mt. Vinson Expedition – Day 3

Date: January 21, 2013 Category: Vinson

It felt odd that we were actually at VBC less than 12 hours after we left South America. In any case, we weren’t going to question what was undoubtedly good luck from the weather gods. So, after a restful 10 … Continue reading

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Mt. Vinson Expedition – Day 2

Date: January 21, 2013 Category: Vinson

The Ilyushin circled a small, bright blue strip several thousand feet below. To the untrained eye, it might blend into the endless white expanse of the Antarctic continent. But that narrow rectangle was more than just a geographic anomaly – … Continue reading

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And We’re Off!

Date: December 5, 2012 Category: Vinson

Well, we got the call! At 6am today we were woken up and told to gather our stuff. We packed up, grabbed a quick bite to eat and hopped on the bus to the airport. That’s all for now! We’re … Continue reading

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Flying Standby

Date: December 4, 2012 Category: Vinson

This morning we met all of the other Vinson climbers who will be attempting the mountain at the same time as us with other expeditions. The entire group, 35 people to be exact, met for the ALE briefing this morning … Continue reading

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Headed Down South…Vinson or Bust!

Date: December 4, 2012 Category: Vinson

Well, it’s that time of year again: Expedition Number 6 kicked off today in Punta Arenas. This is my sixth Seven Summit climb, and hopefully will be my fifth successful summit. I am climbing Vinson Massif, the highest peak in … Continue reading

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Date: June 8, 2012 Category: Vinson

Vinson Massif ( /ˈvɪnsən mæˈsiːf/) is the highest mountain of Antarctica, lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronne Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. The massif is located about 1,200 kilometres … Continue reading

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