The highest peak in Antarctica

Vinson Massif

Antarctica’s highest mountain, Vinson Massif, lies within the Ellsworth Mountains, 700 nautical miles from the South Pole. Adventure Consultants pioneered guided ascents of Vinson Massif in 1990 and has been operating successful trips to the mountain ever since.

Expedition members often comment on how this ascent fulfills the desire to experience the breathtaking majesty of the interior of the Antarctic.

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Difficulty Level Medium ?
Fitness Level High ?
Duration 16 days
Elevation 4,892M / 16,050FT
Large view

A team summits! - Guy Cotter

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Champagne to toast Vinson summit success - Steve Moffat

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Descending the summit ridge - Guy Cotter

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Fixed lines across the 'lunch ledge' - Guy Cotter

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Celebration on Vinson summit - Lydia Bradey

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Staying well fed and hydrated in the dining tent - Suze Kelly

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The last haul up to high camp - Guy Cotter

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Climbing high above the cloud - Dean Staples

From Nov 23 to Dec 08, 2018
Departs from Punta Arenas, Chile
$42,000 USD $
From Dec 04 to Dec 19, 2018
Departs from Punta Arenas, Chile
$42,000 USD $
In combination with the South Pole Ski the Last Degree: $84,500 USD $
From Dec 15 to Dec 30, 2018
Departs from Punta Arenas, Chile
$42,000 USD $
From Dec 26 to Jan 10, 2019
Departs from Punta Arenas, Chile
$42,000 USD $
From Jan 06 to Jan 21, 2019
Departs from Punta Arenas, Chile
$42,000 USD $
  • Overview

    • Climb with the pioneers of Vinson guided ascents
    • The most pristine and remote of the Seven Summits
    • Experience the unbelievable vastness of the Antarctic interior
    • Pole - Last Degree, Climb Antarctica and Aconcagua options available

    We begin the adventure in Punta Arenas at the southern point of Chile. Here we board a polar-capable aircraft and fly to a blue-ice runway and tent camp at Union Glacier on the Antarctic continent. As weather allows, we move by Twin Otter aircraft to the Base Camp on Vinson Massif and begin the ascent, which is usually completed over five or six days.

    Because of our longstanding background of mountaineering in the Antarctic we have a well-established ascent methodology and a flawless ascent record. An attempt on Vinson Massif requires involved logistics due to the extreme nature of the weather and conditions in Antarctica.

    The climbing on the mountain is not technically difficult but the venue is incredibly remote and conditions often extreme. Good pack-fitness is essential as all members must share the load-carrying of the expedition supplies and equipment.

  • Why AC?

    Adventure Consultants is renowned for our quality of service and the strategy applied to high altitude expedition climbing. Our reputation is attributed to meticulous planning and experienced logistics coordination. We have a philosophy of investing in every expedition to offer our climbers the best possible chance of success.

    We employ strong and specialised Expedition leaders and support staff, who are some of the most pre-eminent in the industry. We pride ourselves on operating with small teams, the best back-up and support available. This includes nutritious and ample quantities of food, comfortable facilities, reliable communications systems and the necessary medical back up.

    Many of our expedition members come to us because they have seen us in action on a previous trip and decide to opt for our level of service and proven experience. Others return because they know we do our very best to make expeditions safe and successful.

  • Payment Conditions


    The price of your trip includes the following:

    • Flights to and from Union Glacier in Antarctica
    • Flights from Union Glacier to Vinson Massif Base Camp and return
    • All group climbing equipment
    • All expedition organisational requirements
    • Tents and food while in Antarctica
    • Mountain guides
    • Use of the expedition satellite telephone for outgoing calls
    • Dispatch webpage updated throughout the trip for friends & family to follow
    • Transport of 23kg of personal equipment


    The price of your trip does not include:

    • Air travel to and from Punta Arenas, Chile
    • Hotel accommodation and meals in Punta Arenas
    • Chilean visa and airport fees
    • Personal insurance – full travel, medical and rescue insurance is required as well as personal trip cancellation insurance. Medical evacuation insurance cover of US$150,000 is required.
    • Personal clothing and equipment
    • Excess baggage transportation charges of US$66.00 per kg for any baggage exceeding the personal equipment weight limit.
    • Cost of satellite telephone calls whilst on expedition

    Account Information

    All payments should be made by bank transfer to the following bank and account:

    Bank of New Zealand
    Offshore Branch
    1 Willis Street
    New Zealand

    for the account of Adventure Consultants Limited

    Account # 1000-594771-0000
    Account Type: US Dollars
    Swift Address: BKNZNZ22

    Note: All bank transfer charges are for the remitters account.

    We can also accept your deposit and balance payment by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex), plus a 3% credit card fee.


    A non-refundable deposit of US$5,000 is payable to secure a place on the expedition.


    The balance is payable 120 days before the trip departure date.

    Cancellation & Refund Policy

    An expedition member may cancel his/her participation on the following basis:

    • Cancellations outside of 120 days of the departure date incur the loss of the deposit payment.
    • Cancellations made within 119-90 days of the departure date incur 50% of the balance payment.
    • For cancellation made within 89 days of the departure date, there will be no refunds.

    Trip Cancellation Insurance

    Team members should take out private cancellation insurance if they wish to be covered against cancellation due to medical or personal reasons. This is called Trip Cancellation insurance and can be obtained through your normal travel agent.

  • Trip Notes

    Vinson MassifThe Expedition Trip Notes provide detailed information and background for Adventure Consultants' Vinson Massif Expeditions.

    You can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:

    Vinson Massif Expedition Trip Notes

    Team Membership

    The team will have a minimum size of 4 members and 1 guide and a maximum size of 10 members and 2 guides.

    You will find the Adventure Consultants mountain guides companionable and strong expedition leaders with considerable power and willingness to see you achieve your goals. The number of guides is determined by the team size but the normal ratio of guides to members is 1:5.


    Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) provides the logistic support and safety backup for our Vinson Massif expedition. The ALE staff have considerable experience and a strong involvement in Antarctica. They operate the charter planes to and from the ice, as well as the connecting flights to Vinson Massif Base Camp. You will receive several documents from our office that ALE requires before our expedition.

    Our Guides

    The expedition leader will be scheduled approximately six months out from the trip start. All of our Antarctic expedition trip leaders have extensive experience at high altitude and a proven record of safety, success and compatibility. Our 2017/18 Vinson expeditions will be led by:

    Steve MoffatSteve Moffat
    Lead Guide Trip #1

    Steve is one of our senior guides and when not out in the mountains guiding expeditions or his favourite NZ peaks, can be found in our offices coordinating the NZ guiding programme.

    Steve is an IFMGA Climbing and Ski Guide with considerable Himalayan experience, both as expedition leader and guide. In 2006 he guided and summitted on our Everest expedition. In addition to his time in the Himalayas, Steve has also guided in Canada, South America, Antarctica, and Greenland. He has previously guided our Vinson expeditions in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

    Guy CotterGuy Cotter
    Lead Guide Trip #2

    Guy is the CEO of Adventure Consultants and has spent over 25 years leading and organising expeditions around the globe. Guy's experience in the mountains is unquestionable and his skills are in high demand, not only as a guide but also as a high altitude cameraman, film project manager, training corporate groups, speaker and of course in expedition logistics and planning. Guy's impressive climbing resume includes the Seven Summits and eight of the world's fourteen 8,000m peaks.

    charley maceCharley Mace
    Lead Guide Trip #3 and #4

    Charley lives in Colorado and has been climbing all of his life. He is one of America's most respected and successful Himalayan mountaineers with ascents of five 8000 metre peaks; Everest, K2, Manaslu, Gasherbrum II and Cho Oyu.

    Head Office Support Team

    Running successful journeys and expeditions is more about experience, knowledge and strategic management than any other factors. As an organisation, we place a substantial amount of time and resources into ensuring our trips are well planned and supported. You can be assured that the AC staff will provide you with friendly advice and knowledgeable support throughout the planning stages of your trip and we will be there to provide backup while the trip is running.

    Kelly MclarenKelly McLaren, Client Liaison

    Kelly brings a vast knowledge of AC expeditioning to her role as 'Rest of the World' Client Liaison. Having worked for AC since 2004 Kelly oversees those trips outside of New Zealand, Europe or the Himalaya.



    AC Team 2016 Landscape

    Your Health

    Expedition members will be provided with pre-trip medical advice and a medical questionnaire and asked to visit their family physician and receive a full medical examination. This information will be sighted only by the expedition leader and the ALE medical adviser and treated with full confidentiality.

    Level of Experience Required

    To climb Vinson Massif you need to be physically fit, have a strong mental stamina and be capable of strenuous exercise for several days’ duration. Expedition members can expect to be exerting themselves for about six hours per day and be capable of carrying a 25 kg pack.

    While the route is quite long, it is not a technically difficult climb, so members with modest mountaineering backgrounds can join this expedition so long as they have some overall cold camping experience, have basic mountaineering skills including crevasse rescue training and are sufficiently ‘pack’ fit for long days with big loads.

    Preparing for Your Trip

    Effective high altitude mountaineering requires a good (specific) physiology for the activity and a solid mountaineering background. It is often unknown who will perform well up high and who will not. There have been many instances of technically brilliant mountaineers not being able to climb at altitude whilst less experienced climbers, who do operate well up high, excel.

    Of course, there is much we can do to enhance the attributes we have and these are best achieved by specific high altitude training. Check out our Fitness Training page for more detailed information.

    What You Carry

    Adventure Consultants are privileged to be one of the only operators permitted to leave caches of equipment at our mountain camps. This greatly reduces the need for carrying the larger loads of days gone by. In general, you can expect to carry around 15kg (35lbs) pack and haul an additional 12kg (25lbs) in your sled. On summit day your pack is light, less than 8kg (17lbs). This reinforces the need to take just the right amount of equipment with you on the mountain and to ensure you are ‘pack fit’ before you arrive on the expedition. Your guide will help with your equipment check in Punta Arenas, but you will need to arrive fit and ready to tackle the mountain.


    The Vinson Massif is situated in the heart of the Ellsworth Mountains, 700 nautical miles from the South Pole. The mountain was first climbed by an American expedition during the summer of 1966/67 but was not ascended a second time until 1979. Both expeditions were supported by government programmes.

    The Canadian company Adventure Network International (ANI) opened up this area to private expeditions and operated regular flights to its summer camp at Patriot Hills from 1985. In 2003/2004 they withdrew their Antarctic operations and Antarctica Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) stepped in. ALE is run by some of the same people that initially started ANI back in the 1980s and they now use a new camp at Union Glacier as their base to operate from in Antarctica.

    Vinson Massif is 16,067 feet (4,897 metres) high but is not a technically difficult climb although it is an extremely cold ascent with temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees C near the summit. Under the leadership of experienced Antarctic guides, climbers of moderate experience can safely undertake the expedition.

    While ALE will supply our transport to and from Antarctica, Adventure Consultants will provide all the leadership, guiding staff and team equipment necessary for the expedition.


    AC will import western food for the expedition and supplement this with fresh and dried Chilean products. Our expeditions are renowned for the quality of the food and your guides cooking expertise will be legendary. The group will be expected to assist with cooking tasks. We bring a variety of foods and snacks to cater to most tastes however if you have a favourite snack food / treat for high on the mountain, we highly recommend you bring a small supply along with you. Snack food for the climbing days will be sorted in Punta Arenas before you depart and you will carry that for the expedition. Other snack food will be available for days when not on the mountain.

    Clothing & Equipment

    A full clothing and equipment checklist will be sent to all expedition members once their booking is confirmed. The expedition leader will be available prior to the trip to discuss individual equipment questions.

  • Itinerary

    1 Meet in Punta Arenas, Chile
    2 Weighing & loading of gear
    3 Expedition Briefing
    4 Fly to Union Glacier, Antarctica
    5 Fly to Vinson Massif Base Camp
    6-13 Climb Vinson Massif
    14 Return to Union Glacier
    15 Depart for Punta Arenas
    16 Leave for home destination

    Flights to and from Antarctica are subject to weather. Delays can and often do occur therefore it is important to allow some flexibility with airline travel arrangements at the end of the expedition.

    The climb involves interesting glacier travel on the wide and gently sloping lower reaches of the Branscomb Glacier. We pull our sleds up the glacier far below the impressive ice falls that cascade from the main Vinson Massif plateau 1,500 metres above.

    The Base Camp is situated on the Branscomb Glacier at approximately 2,100 metres and we use two high camps at approximately 2,700 and 3,850 metres.

    The Low Camp is situated further up the glacier just beyond the second icefall, below an ice-wall, which drops directly from the main summit, about 7 hours walk from Base Camp punctuated by regular breaks to take in the scenery. We carry half of our equipment in a rucksack and the other half we tow behind on a small plastic sledge.

    From Camp One, we climb a 1200m snow arête (up to 40 degrees steep) on a fixed rope for approximately 800m. Fixed rope techniques will be taught during the expedition. The snow arête leads us to High Camp which takes about 6-9 hours. High Camp is nestled beside a rocky ridge adjacent to the main summit plateau.

    The climb from high camp to the summit normally takes between 7 and 10 hours, depending on the speed of the party. Descent back to the top camp takes around 2½ hours. On summit day as you climb the glacial plateau you will first pass Branscomb Peak on the left and the final Vinson summit pyramid then lies directly ahead. From here, we climb the picturesque East Ridge by weaving in and out of small rock steps until we arrive at the stunningly beautiful summit and the highest point on the Antarctic continent.

    There is a Sierra Club book in a metal tin on the summit of the peak for those wishing to record their ascent.

    The descent from high camp down to Base Camp can be achieved reasonably comfortably in one day. We collect the toilet bags and other waste on the way down the mountain.

    Arrival: As the group gear must be weighed and loaded at least 1 day prior to departure to Union Glacier as well as attend the expedition briefing, you are advised to schedule your arrival in Punta Arenas accordingly. Thus we recommend arriving the day before the official start date of the expedition or at the very least, arriving on the morning of Day One.

    Departure: Flights to and from Antarctica are subject to weather. Delays can and often do occur therefore it is important to allow some flexibility with airline travel arrangements at the end of the expedition.

  • Add Ons

    Aconcagua Add On to VinsonClimb both Vinson and Aconcagua with our Aconcagua Add On package which will be run immediately after the January 6-21, 2018 Vinson expedition has been completed.  After all, you have already acclimatised to 4,892m on Vinson Massif yourself, and since you have travelled all that way why not make use of those advantages and tackle another of the Seven Summits while you are there? 

    Dates: Jan 23 - Feb 10, 2018
    Duration: 19 days
    Departure: ex Mendoza, Argentina

    Price: US$9,900
    Plus Vinson Massif fee, includes helicopter access and egress

    You can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:

    Aconcagua Add On to Vinson Trip Notes


    Climb AntarcticaComplete your Antarctic experience with our Climb Antarctica Expedition, the ideal Add On following your Vinson Climb. Climb Antarctica has been hailed as the continent's best kept secret, and presents mountaineers with the opportunity to climb in the world's most remote and pristine environment.

    The terrain is unlimited and varied, from technical ascents to easy snow climbs and ridge traverses that offer views over the Ronne Ice Shelf and Polar Plateau. This unique experience of climbing in Antarctica has only been undertaken by a handful of people and the opportunities for attempting new routes and first ascents are a real possibility. Contact us to find out more information or see our Climb Antarctica page.

    The Expedition Trip Notes provide detailed information and background for Adventure Consultants' Climb Antarctica Expeditions.

    You can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:

    Climb Antarctica Trip Notes

    Fly to the South Pole

    Journey to this ultimate destination following your expedition, covering the distance that took the early explorers many months of hardship, in just a few hours. Contact us for more details.

    South Pole Last DegreeSouth Pole Ski the Last Degree
    Imagine being able to have the pleasure of standing on the geographical South Pole? Well, this is easy to do either as a stand-alone trip or you can combine an ascent of Vinson Massif with the Ski the Last Degree to South Pole option. We have led private groups to the South Pole, so are experts in the field.

    Vinson Massif with the Ski the Last Degree to South Pole option:
    Dates: December 4 - 30, 2018 (Combines Vinson Trip 2 and SLD Trip 1)
    Duration: 27 days
    Departure: ex Punta Arenas, Chile
    Price: US$84,500

    There is also a stand-alone option for South Pole Ski the Last Degree and you can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:

    South Pole Last Degree

    If you feel you want to additional support to carry equipment for you then please contact the office to discuss pricing for this option. We can arrange for a personal porter to carry for you throughout the expedition but due to the high cost of operating in Antarctica, the costs for this service are substantial.

    We offer Privately Guided Expeditions on Vinson and have been fortunate enough to work with many private groups over the years with exceptional results. Contact us for further information and pricing. 

  • Travel & Rescue Insurance

    Adventure Consultants recommends the following travel insurance and rescue insurance options, although this is only just a start! Once you book on a trip with AC, your Client Liaison will help you by sending through advice on your options;

    • Travel insurance
    • Trip interruption
    • Trip cancellation
    • Rescue / Evacuation / Medical insurance


    CoverMore LogoIndulge your spirit of adventure, but protect yourself against all of those unforeseen events that can occur prior to or whilst on your trip with Adventure Consultants. Together with CoverMore Insurance, Adventure Consultants are now offering advice and assistance in purchasing CoverMore policies. With quality travel insurance cover, comes peace of mind and the freedom to venture around the world with confidence, in the knowledge that you will have the support and assistance of CoverMore, if you need it.

    Adventure Consultants highly recommends the Options Plan as this gives you the highest level of cover and benefits available. This includes cover for trip cancellation and amendment which protects your travel investment, medical and dental emergencies, lost luggage/personal belongings and travel delay, amongst other things.

    You can tailor your cover further by adding on winter sports, annual multi-trip cover, scooter riding and working holidays to name a few.

    Why CoverMore?

    • They provide cover where others won’t. e.g. terrorism scares, natural disasters, civil unrest and redundancy.
    • Protect your travel investment by choosing cancellation/interruption cover that meets your needs.
    • The option to increase your cover on valuable luggage items such as cameras and laptops.
    • Adventure Sports Cover for a variety of activities. Trekking is automatically covered, provided that reasonable care is taken, and you are not using ropes or other mountaineering equipment.
    • Free Global SIM card.
    • 24 hour emergency medical and travel assistance centre that is staffed by specialist doctors, nurses and case managers. This now includes the new Travel GP service, allowing you to talk in person to an Australia-based GP.

    Who and what trips is the policy suitable for?

    • Non-New Zealand residents travelling inbound to New Zealand – suitable for cover when travelling around New Zealand, but mountaineering or climbing is excluded.
    • New Zealander's travelling outbound on a trekking adventure e.g. Everest Base Camp Trek, Khumbu Trek, Kilimanjaro, Tour du Mont Blanc Trek and Mustang Horse Trek.

    For more information or assistance, please contact your Client Liaison at Adventure Consultants. Policies can also be purchased directly at CoverMore.


    Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance Logo webRipCord is the leading medical evacuation program offering elite evacuation and rescue services. With their new partnership with TravelEx, they can also now provide the benefits of a traditional travel insurance product with their just released, RipCord Rescue Travel Insurance™. This is specifically designed for the adventure enthusiast with unique trip cancellation/interruption, medical expense, sporting equipment and other coverage benefits to protect your financial investment.

    RipCord is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, an elite team of special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliate physicians, paramedics, nurses, former intelligence officers and other medical/security experts comprising the most experienced team in the industry. They will rescue you from the field wherever your emergency occurs and evacuate you to your home country hospital of choice.

    RipCord rescues you from the field if you have an emergent medical condition that will result in significant permanent injury and/or death, but does not require hospitalisation.

    Tusker Trail founder, Eddie Frank, describes his experience with Redpoint Resolutions’ RipCord Travel Protection:

    “We [Tusker Trail] only have one or two evacuations a year and they occur because of life-threatening emergencies. Emergencies that are immediate and now. There is zero room for hesitation or error. Redpoint Resolutions founders Ted Muhlner and Tom Bochnowski are two guys who understand commitment. When they say they’re going to do something, they do it. I chose their Ripcord Travel Protection program for my climbers and trekkers because Tom and Ted come from the military, where your word and your handshake mean everything. Tom Bochnowski joined me on our recent Kilimanjaro Climb for Valor. During this climb two of our climbers suffered high altitude emergencies. Tom worked hand in hand with me to ensure the successful helicopter evacuation of the two climbers. Redpoint’s Stanford Medicine-affiliated physician Avi Patil, who was also climbing with us, assisted me with critical medical decisions that helped prevent a bad outcome. The teamwork and the level of care and commitment provided to my climbers and me during these recent evacuations has only further cemented my team’s partnership with Redpoint and their RipCord Travel Protection program. After more than 39 years and 51 successful climbs, recommending RipCord for my climbers is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” - Eddie Frank, Tusker Trail

    RipCord are proud to partner with Adventure Consultants to provide RipCord’s industry leading rescue, evacuation and travel insurance coverages to its clients.

    Check out their latest promotional video or click here to learn more.


    Global Rescue SnipAdventure Consultants also recommends the rescue evacuation and security membership/services provided by Global Rescue, which provides transport from the point of illness/injury back to your home countries hospital of your choice. TotalCare provides real-time access to medical information and coming soon, this includes urgent card and speciality consultations from some of the world’s health physicians at the Elite Medical Group and John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

    Recently Global Rescue has released a new travel insurance product, the Signature Travel Insurance option. This has no height limitation and gives comprehensive cover for trip cancellation/interruption, medical and dental expenses, delays, lost luggage as well as optional add-ons to ‘cancel or interrupt for any reason. This is currently only available to US Residents.

    Click here to find out more about this insurance cover which covers climbing and is thus suitable for many of our expeditions.

  • FAQ

    • Expedition Documentation

      Please note you will be emailed a set of the Vinson Massif Team Reference Notes upon registration. This extensive booklet includes detailed information to assist in the planning of your trip; from travel and medical advice to equipment lists and photography tips. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline but please feel free to call or e-mail if you have any further questions. Our team is here to help!

    • Choosing a Provider

      How long has Adventure Consultants been in operation?
      Adventure Consultants started in 1990 and we have been guiding internationally ever since.

      A few outfitters ‘claim’ to have the same level of experience and prestige with that of Adventure Consultants. In this league, what makes you a first choice for your climbers travelling to Antarctica?
      In December of 1992, Adventure Consultants founders Rob Hall and Gary Ball ran their first commercial expedition to Antarctica and previous to this, Rob and Gary climbed Vinson Massif in 1990, and Rob earlier in 1989. Adventure Consultants have continued guiding ever since to this remote part of the world, and have an established relationship with ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions), who supply our transport to and from Antarctica and the logistic support and safety backup for our Vinson Massif expedition. Adventure Consultants has been running expeditions to Vinson Massif for over 20 seasons and over this time, we have developed our well-established ascent methodology and a flawless ascent record.

    • The Climb

      How long is a typical day on the mountain?
      Typically expect your days to be 4-9 hours long, with summit day potentially being longer.

      If we get "stuck" on the ice, what do we eat? Have you ever run out of food?
      No, we won’t run out of food! Typically we bring at least one week's worth of extra food with us. If we are required to stay longer than this we will then dine at the large base operated from Union Glacier, who maintain huge stores of food that could basically winter over everyone present.

      Can I use skis on Vinson?
      On the mountain, we actually don’t need them! We do not wear skis on the expedition, as skiing with a heavy pack and a sled behind you is a skill most do not have.

      After going all that way, I would like to stay and ski to the South Pole, is this possible and if so, how long would it take?
      We can arrange this for you. It typically takes 10 days or so after your climb is finished. The whole team flies back to Union Glacier and when the main group flies back to South America, you will join our South Pole Last Degree group and fly to 88 nautical miles away from the pole, and ski the rest of the way, pulling sleds just like the polar explorers! See our Ski the Last Degree South Pole page. Note, this option is only available on particular departures, so please enquire with our office, if interested.

    • Food, Accommodation & Facilities

      What showers and laundry facilities will be available on the expedition?
      Showers and laundry facilities are available at the Punta Arenas Hotel prior to and after the expedition. There may be the chance for a shower at Union Glacier, so bring a lightweight towel and small wash kit for this eventuality. We advise people to bring wet-wipes for an impromptu wash while on the expedition.

      Would you let us know what food will be available?
      Food is one of the most crucial factors for a trip onto Vinson Massif. We serve nutritious and filling food that will sustain you well for the ascent; during the planning stage, we will ask you for your feedback in advance in order for us to adjust our menus to your specific requirements or tastes. We allow you to select your own mountain snack food in Punta Arenas prior to the trip to ensure you carry only what you prefer eating on the mountain.

      What is the food like?
      Our guides will prepare high quality food from a pre-planned menu with food items from New Zealand and Chile. On the mountain, we also eat fresh food plus MRE's - meals ready to eat. This is real food, vacuum sealed, so you just heat and eat! On previous expeditions, our teams have been served meals such as NZ lamb shanks, salmon, curries and pasta dishes. We are happy to cater for specific dietary requirements, so do let us know in advance.

      What are the hotels like?
      The expedition departs from Punta Arenas and we stay at a great little hotel called the Hotel Rey Don Felipe. This hotel offers classical elegance and its friendly helpful staff always look after the AC teams exceptionally well. The challenge is that if we need to extend our stay in the event that weather delays our scheduled flight to Antarctica. Many groups are forced to check out of their hotel regardless but your guide will work with the hotel to try and keep the AC team in the hotel until our departure!

      Will I be sharing a tent or room with other climbers? Is a single supplement available?
      Typically you will have your own hotel room in Punta Arenas and on the mountain, you will share a tent with one other member. Due to the severe weight restrictions on the flight to Antarctica and heavy load carrying requirements on the mountain, a single supplement is not available while in Antarctica.

    • Travel

      Do I need to arrive the day before the trip starts? And when should I book my flight to leave as I have heard that there can be long delays trying to get to, or get back from the ice?
      As the group gear must be weighed and loaded at least 1 day prior to departure to Union Glacier as well as attend the expedition briefing, you are advised to schedule your arrival in Punta Arenas accordingly. Thus we recommend arriving on Day One of the expedition. Flights to and from Antarctica are subject to weather, therefore delays can and sometimes do occur, so it is very important to allow some flexibility with airline travel arrangements at the end of the expedition.

      When should I book my ticket?
      For the majority of our expeditions, we advise you wait until the 120 day balance payment date prior to your trip start date to ensure your trip has met the minimum numbers and will operate. If you see a good deal and want to book your flights, then please ensure that you can make changes to your tickets. At this time, we highly recommend that you also purchase trip cancellation insurance, in the event that you need to cancel.

      Can I get a cheap ticket online?
      Even though our expeditions are only 2 weeks long, you MUST purchase an open, fully changeable air ticket, as trips can be extended by a week or more. Given the remote nature of where we are landing, both at Base Camp and at Union Glacier, the weather must fall within certain parameters to be able to fly and you can be assured the reasons for flight delays are for safety. In today’s world, there are few places where the environment still affects our plans and Antarctica is one of them!

      Where do we meet? Will I be picked up?
      Upon arrival into Punta Arenas, you will have to catch a taxi from the airport to the hotel as your guide will be busy with the final packing for the trip down to the ice. Once you have arrived at the hotel, please do let your guide know that you have arrived safely as he/she will be expecting you.

      Why is this two week trip so expensive?
      One sentence sums it all up. The flight to and from the ice. This will be the most expensive, no frills flight that you will ever take. The plane is a Russian built Ilyushin 76, designed for work in Siberia; it is well suited for taking off and landing on the ice. However, the interior will be jammed with cargo for the Base Camp, our gear, climbers, scientists and polar explorers, etc. Despite the low frills, it is a fun and exciting flight, especially the landing!

      What if I am arriving early or departing late?
      We can assist you with booking extra hotel room nights if you arrive early. However, on this trip YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ARRIVE LATE, all equipment must be weighed and loaded one full day in advance of the flight to Antarctica. If you miss this deadline, or your bags get lost, you will not be able to come on the expedition.

    • Clothing & Equipment

      Do you have a recommended list of clothing we should bring?
      Yes, you will be sent a personal clothing and equipment/packing list, once our office has received your trip registration form and deposit. We do also have a dedicated equipment coordinator that is happy to provide advice and answers to any questions you may have.

      Do I really need all the equipment on the equipment list?
      Yes, these lists have been carefully prepared and you must bring everything on the list, as there are very limited options if additional equipment needs to be purchased in Punta Arenas.

      How warm do we need our sleeping bags to be?
      This will be clearly stated in your recommended gear list. In particular for camping on the ice, you will need a sleeping bag warm enough for you in conditions that can be as cold as -40oC (-40oF) We cannot recommend enough as to buying a sleeping bag big enough to allow you to wear some clothes in if it is especially cold.

      How much weight can we carry on the expedition?
      Adventure Consultants are privileged to be one of the only operators permitted to leave caches of equipment at our mountain camps. This greatly reduces the need for carrying the larger loads of days gone by. In general you can expect to carry around 15kg (35lbs) pack and haul an additional 12kg (25lbs) in your sled. On summit day, your pack is light at less than 8kg (17lbs).

    • Acclimatisation

      I will be climbing at altitude, so does Adventure Consultants take this into consideration?
      On all of our programmes, we seriously take into consideration the altitude and ensure that all of our itineraries allow for sufficient acclimatisation and rest days, if required.

      What altitude medication will be available on the expedition? Do we need to take tablets before/ during the trip?
      All our guides carry extensive medical kits including medication for altitude illness. Unless you have experienced previous issues with acclimatisation there is likely no need to take Diamox prophylactically. You need to bring any medications you regularly use (don’t forget to tell us about them) plus extra. Also bring a small first aid kit including a blister kit and mild headache medication for the normal altitude headaches.

    • Guides, Porters & Team Members

      How many guides will be assigned to our group?
      On the Vinson Massif expedition, the team will have a minimum size of 4 members and 1 guide and a maximum size of 10 members and 2 guides.

      Can I hire a porter?
      If you feel you want additional support to carry equipment for you, then please contact the office to discuss pricing for this option. We can arrange for a personal porter to carry for you throughout the expedition but due to the high cost of operating in Antarctica the costs for this service are substantial.

      Can I contact other climbers or guides on this expedition?
      Sure! Before the expedition, contact our office and we can pass on your details to the other climbers. Due to our privacy policy, we leave it up to individual team members as to whether they want to get in touch.

      Who goes on your trips?
      Our climbers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, nationalities and skill levels ranging from those seeking skill development, to those seeking assistance with the world's highest mountains or purely adventure.

      I would like to arrange a private trip, is this possible?
      We are happy to arrange a private group trip to the destination of your choice, and even to remote destinations such as Antarctica. There is no specific group size, but obviously larger groups are more cost effective.

    • Health & Fitness

      What are the skills/prior experience required for this climb?
      Members should have prior experience with an ice axe and crampons and capable of strenuous exercise for several days' duration. Glacier travel and snow camping experience are also beneficial. If you are interested in this expedition but feel that you may not have quite enough experience, please contact our team to chat over the skills you have and we can also easily arrange additional training around the world, if need be.

      What kind of physical condition should I be in for an Antarctic expedition?
      Given the remote location and altitude, we ask that you are in very good physical condition. Cardiovascular fitness is very important on this climb and you should be able to climb for 6 - 10 hours a day wearing a pack and up to 12hrs on summit day.

      How can I best prepare for the cold? Isn’t it the coldest place on the planet?
      Yes, if the wind picks up and you are in the shade, it can get very cold indeed. The good part is that it is a dry cold. Low humidity makes the low temperatures a bit more tolerable. The best way to prepare for these temperatures, barring standing in a walk in freezer, would be to get out during the winter months if you can, and anticipate how your body will respond to the change in climate. To give you an idea of just how cold places down there get, the lowest ever recorded temperature by humans was at Vostok on July 21st 1983 was -89°C!

      Adventure Consultants can assist in sourcing gear and ALE may be able to rent some clothing items for particular trips. If interested, please enquire with your client liaison.

    • Communication & Electronic Devices

      What type of communication is available on the climb?
      Your expedition guide will have an Iridium satellite phone and you are welcome to use this at US$4 per minute. As we rely on solar power and cannot guarantee that the phone will be available 24hrs a day. Cold severely affects the system and delays can occur for re-warming. If you anticipate that you may need to make frequent or long calls then please make arrangements before the expedition through our office.

      I want to contact my friend or relative, who is on one of your trips, how can I reach them?
      Your guide will send daily internet dispatches and the Adventure Consultants NZ office receives updates from our guides, while they are in the field. The best place to reach a loved one is through our office.

      Will there be any power source for charging batteries, etc. available throughout the expedition? What voltage requirements?
      We take solar panels and sometimes battery power packs on our expeditions. Our first priority is to charge our satellite phones and expedition electrical equipment. If your equipment has a cigarette lighter type car charger (12V DC/DC charger capable of plugging into a 'female' cigarette lighter socket), bring that as this then gives you the option to charge items at Union Glacier. We do NOT recommend bringing rechargeable digital cameras; they tend to run out when power is not available. Use cameras with replaceable batteries and we recommend lithium batteries. We can cater for special power requirements at an extra cost - please enquire with our office.

    • Weather Forecasts

      What weather report service do you use? How often do you receive a weather report in the summit bid phase?
      During the expedition, your guide will receive daily weather updates from the team at Union Glacier as well as updates from the Adventure Consultants office. This will then allow your guide to gauge the best summit window.

    • Insurance

      What insurance do we need to get?
      When travelling to Antarctica for a Vinson Massif expedition, Search & Rescue and medical evacuation insurance to a minimum value of US$150,000 is required. All expeditions also need cover for at least 7 days BEYOND your expected return date to Punta Arenas. This should cover you for any costs incurred in the event of any illness, medical emergency or evacuation that occurs while on expedition and we also recommend insurance for trip cancellation, baggage loss, damage or theft, or any other mishap that can occur.

      Do I need evacuation insurance?
      Absolutely and as it is so imperative for departures to Antarctica, as your insurance cover is double checked prior to be allowed to travel down to the ice.

      Who do you recommend for insurance?
      When you have booked on an Antarctic departure, we will send you information on the insurance option which will serve you best for obtaining the best coverage in line with what is required.

      What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?
      Trip cancellation insurance is an option that may allow you to cancel your trip without losing the total cost of the trip. Adventure Consultants highly recommends cancellation insurance for expeditions to Antarctica. If circumstances cause us to cancel a trip (e.g. minimum numbers are not reached) then we refund your fees paid, but trip cancellation insurance covers your airfare and any other costs you may have incurred.

    • Fees & Payments

      Can I pay by credit card?
      We can accept the expedition deposit and balance payment on a credit card although, this does incur a 3% credit card fee. 

      What is included in the cost of my trip? Does it include airfare?
      Each specific trip page on the website has a section as well as a downloadable pdf document with exactly what is and what is not included on the trip. International airfares are not included in the trip price. We can however, recommend excellent travel agents whom we have worked with in your country, should you require help with arranging your international airfare.

      Why are you sometimes more expensive than other operators?
      Many of our trips are very similar in price to our competitors. Some companies even wait for us to set our prices and use ours as a guideline!! Some of our main selling points (which sometimes do cost more) are; internationally qualified western guides, proven dependable local operators, small group sizes and safe client:guide ratios, quality equipment and high summit success rates, among other things. You do get what you pay for, which is why we stand out from the rest. Many clients come to us after failing on one of our competitors ‘cheaper’ trips.

      How do I sign up for a trip?
      The best way to reserve your space on a trip is to call our office or complete our online booking form. Return this with the trip deposit either through a telegraphic transfer (information is on our trip notes downloaded from the specific trip page) or by using our secure credit card page. Phone our New Zealand head office on +64 3 443 8711 (Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:30pm PST + 19 hours) or Freephone 1-866-757-8722 from North America.

    • Photography

      I love the photographs in your brochure and on your website, are they for sale?
      Yes, our images are available for licensing or purchase.

      What is the best equipment for photography in Alpine environments?
      There is an extensive section in our reference notes, which are sent out on receipt of your trip registration form and deposit, explaining about photography in the mountains.

      Remember photos are wonderful records of your expedition but keep camera gear simple and light to best enjoy the trip you are on. Disposable and digital cameras are the lightest weight, but all cameras have maintenance issues that need to be carefully considered before bringing them to high elevations.

    • Employment

      I want to become a mountain guide, where do I start?
      Those with limited experience generally start by taking an alpine climbing course and then go out and climb for a few years. You generally should have at least 5 years of climbing and/or teaching/guiding experience. You need avalanche and medical training and then you can apply to do a NZ Mountain Guides Course or the equivalent in your country, aligned with the IFMGA. Check the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association web pages for a complete description.

  • Dispatches

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“When I decided four years ago to complete the Seven Summits, I wanted to try a different guide company for all of my climbs until I found one that I was comfortable with, had the experience on all the summits and met all my expectations. After using three other companies, I am now in the process of planning my third climb with Adventure Consultants.”
Vinson Massif Expedition

Stephen Wilson
Carol McAlwee

“I have had this dream since I was 13, and it is only with your help that I have been able to achieve it. Adventure Consultants is a company, a business, but it is something that also goes well beyond that and I thank you immensely for helping me with my dream.”
Antarctic Ski the Last Degree Expedition

Carol McAlwee

“Good guides understand that part of the payoff is the opportunity to help create one of life’s most powerful experiences for someone they’ve just met. I salute the Guides of Adventure Consultants, who do just that every time they lead an expedition.”
Vinson Massif Expedition

Dave Mauro