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Vinson Massif, Antarctica, 4897

Categories: Mountains

Located only 660 miles from the South Pole, Vinson-Massif 4897moh(16,067′) is the highest peak in Antarctica and one of the renowned “Seven Summits.” Antarctica has the reputation for having the most inaccessible and inhospitable mountains in the world. Climbed for the first time in 1965, 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 to Patriot Hills and land on the world’s only blue ice runway! A short flight then brings us to the Ellsworth Mountains and Vinson Base Camp. From here we ascend the Vinson Glacier to the col between Vinson and Mount Shinn. From our High Camp we ascend gradually, finishing with a steep push up a ridge leading to the summit, literally, the “top of the bottom of the world.”

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest continent on the planet. In the winter, the lowest recorded temperatures (without wind chill!) have reached -89°C (-129°F). The continent averages 2.4 km in height (1.5 miles) above sea level, making it 1.5 km (almost a mile) higher than the global average land height! Each year the South Pole receives less than an inch of water… in the form of snow, of course. This amount of precipitation is similar to that of another desert, the Sahara.

Vinson Massif, at 78°35’S, 85°25’W is 21km (13 miles) long and 13km (8 miles) wide, is the highest peak in Antarctica. It lies on the southern part of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range. It was named for Carl G. Vinson, a Georgia congressman and a major force in 20th century US Antarctic exploration. Discovered in 1957 after being sighted by US Navy aircraft, it was first climbed in December 1966 by a combined group from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation.

Author: Sissel Smaller