Antartica | 16,064 ft
Mount Vinson is located at 78 degrees 35 minutes south, 85 degrees 25 minutes west, in the Sentinel Range of Antarctica’s Ellsworth Mountains. Vinson Massif’s summit is the highest in Antarctica, and just getting to this isolated mountain is a logistical feat.
We contract ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions) to fly us from Punta Arenas, Chile to the Antarctic continent in their Russian Illysian Jet airplane. We land on a natural ice runway where ALE maintains a camp and logistics station. From here we transfer to smaller Canadian made Twin Otters, which take us to the Mt. Vinson base camp. On any trip to Antarctica one must remember that weather is the ultimate decider, Delays on each leg of this journey are the norm. A perfect trip, Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas is 10 days, but expect on average two weeks with delays.
We climb during the months of December and January, Antarctica’s summer. During this time of year we benefit from 22 hours of sunlight and many high pressure systems. Temps can range between 20 degrees F and -40 degrees F. When the sun is out, and the winds are calm it’s a very comfortable place, but it can also be a desperately cold unforgiving environment when the weather changes. The climbing up Mt. Vinson’s normal route is not technically difficult, but the cold dry air and southerly latitude make it not one to be taken lightly.
Of all the expeditions I have led around the world, guiding in Antarctica is possibly the most personally rewarding. Antarctica is an extremely beautiful, and unique mountain environment of mind blowing scenery and extreme conditions. Mt. Vinson’s remoteness adds an adventure aspect that is rare, even in mountain climbing.
"I have gone on many trips with Todd, all around the world. Rock climbing, ice climbing, altitude mountaineering; we have summited Everest together, ice climbed in Canada, rock climbed in Sardinia. He always makes every trip fun, challenging and memorable. I have never seen anyone who works so hard but somehow makes the entire trip seem so effortless and relaxing. The most important thing to consider when you chose a mountain or climbing guide is how they will react when things don’t go according to plan — as can happen on any trip dependent on weather and geography. For those situations, Todd is the best. Level headed, always considering risks and safety before making decisions. I have trusted him with my life and would trust him with it again and again."