– Antarctica 4,892m / 16,050ft.
Garrett Madison has led 16 successful expeditions to Mt. Vinson over the last 12 years. Each of these climbs was successful in reaching the top of Mount Vinson, the highest point in Antarctica. Madison Mountaineering’s approach to leading small and self-sufficient teams allows us the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in Antarctica and accommodate the needs of our climbers. Our 'expedition style' approach on Vinson provides climbers with the relevant climbing and expedition experience to apply on bigger and more challenging peaks throughout the world.
Who is your guide?In addition to leading 16 climbs of Mt. Vinson, Garrett Madison has led ten successful climbs of Mt. Everest, two on K2, and many other expeditions around the globe. Garrett is a pleasant person to spend time with and is perhaps one of the best ‘expedition leaders’ in regards to balancing climber safety, reaching the summit, and having a great time throughout the program.
The Journey to VinsonOur journey begins in the Tierra del Fuego (Spanish for “Land of Fire”) in Chile’s southernmost city of Punta Arenas, located on the strait of Magellan. A large statue of the famous explorer towers over the town square. Legend has it that those who kiss the statue are destined to return! After a briefing with our flight logistics operator, we depart in an Ilyushin 76 Russian cargo jet and fly 4 ½ hours over the Drake passage and then over a large part of the Antarctic continent, landing on a large strip of blue ice nearby the Union Glacier camp. We generally spend a day or two here then fly via twin otter aircraft 45 minutes to Vinson base camp, where we begin our climb.
Part of the Ellsworth mountain range, Mt. Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, approx. 600 miles from the South Pole and over 1,200 miles from the beginning of the Antarctic Peninsula. Traveling to Antarctica is an incredible experience in itself, as most Antarctic tourists merely catch a glimpse of the Antarctic peninsula from a cruise ship. Vinson climbers actually fly onto the continent (an opportunity normally only reserved for government-funded scientists or support personnel) and experience the surreal environment of inland Antarctica. A pristine land of ice, snow, and rock, Antarctica is actually a desert, with the least precipitation of any continent on Earth. At our intermediate camp in Antarctica located on Union Glacier, we have the opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields.
We break the ascent of Vinson into several stages. With two higher camps above our base camp, we have the opportunity to acclimate along the way and rest during the ascent. Most of the climbing is on glaciated slopes, with one full day on a steep snow and ice slope utilizing fixed ropes. The final day to the top involves climbing the summit ridge with amazing views of the surrounding peaks as well as looking to the horizon of ice as far as the eye can see. Generally, we have stable weather during the climbing season of December and January, as this is the summer season in the southern hemisphere with 24 hours of daylight in Antarctica. The average temperature is well below 0°F, and occasionally the winds can reach up to 40 mph. Climbers should have experience climbing in cold conditions, be comfortable carrying a 40 lb. backpack, and possess appropriate glacier travel experience. Please contact us to discuss the prerequisites for this expedition.
- Your mountain guide will meet you in Punta Arenas to conduct your gear check and be with you for the entire program (other companies have you meet your guide at the mountain).
- Small team size, with a maximum of five climbers with one guide.
- Flexibility to adjust to changing mountain conditions, as well as possible flight delays.
- The best food on the mountain. Garrett Madison is famous for his signature meals on Vinson that never disappoint! (Think eggs, pancakes, and bacon for breakfast, meat, fish, with vegetables and a rice or potato dish for dinner)
- Expert leadership throughout.
- A dedicated and extremely knowledgeable person of contact in the Madison Mountaineering office to assist with any pre-trip questions.
- A travel agent well versed in booking flights for Vinson climbers, and available to make changes should you choose to change your itinerary.
- Regular dispatches: Keep family members and friends informed through our daily dispatch from the mountain accessed on our website.
Day 1: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. A representitive will meet you upon arrival at the airport and take you to our hotel. After settling in, we will conduct a thorough equipment check, and then have a group dinner at one of the many fine restaurants.
Day 2: After breakfast we attend a pre flight briefing with our flight operator, and discuss many aspects of the journey to Antarctica. In the afternoon we send our duffel bags to the airport to be checked and packed for departure. We have the late afternoon and evening to explore the city.
Day 3: Depart for Antarctica. We fly approximately 5 hours over the Drake Passage and land at Union Glacier camp. We generally spend 1-2 nights at this camp.
Day 4: Review rope travel, Ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques.
Day 5: Fly to Vinson base camp, establish base camp.
Day 6: Climb to Camp 1, establish camp.
Day 7: Rest in Camp 1 and review fixed line climbing techniques.
Day 8: Climb up the Branscomb ridge, carrying a load to our Camp 2, return to Camp 1 for the night.
Day 9: Climb to Camp 2 and establish camp.
Day 10: Rest in Camp 2; evaluate weather conditions for a summit attempt.
Day 11: Summit day! We climb the glaciated slopes to the summit ridge, and then traverse the ridgeline to the highest point in Antarctica. Return to Camp 2 for the night.
Day 12: Descend from Camp 2 to Vinson Base Camp, spend the night at VBC.
Day 13: Fly back to Union Glacier Camp this day.
Day 14: Fly from Union Glacier Camp to Punta Arenas
Day 15: Depart Punta Arenas for home.
Days 16-18: Extra days in case of bad weather or flight delays.
Mount Vinson climb
- December 14 – 30, 2021
- December 25, 2021 – January 10, 2022
- January 5 – 21, 2022 with co-guide Ed Viesturs*
Deposit: USD 10,000
- Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
- All flights within Antarctica to reach Vinson base camp and back
- All accommodation and services while in Antarctica
- All meals in Antarctica
- All team equipment (tents, ropes, cooking equipment, etc.)
- All communications equipment such as VHF radios and satellite phone
- Guide service fees
- Daily weather forecasting during the climb
Costs Do Not Include:
- Bank transfer fees, if needed
- Accommodation and meals in Punta Arenas
- Personal items (see equipment list)
- Medical and Evacuation Insurance (required)
- Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
- Any charges incurred that are beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering
- All prices and program dates are subject to change
- There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without reaching or making progress towards expedition objective(s) (for example, the summit) due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering.
- Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts towards reaching expedition objective(s) within our margin of safety.
- Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
- Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
- Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
- Deposit due with registration materials
- All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
- Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition
Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.
- Synthetic Short Underwear (2-3 pair): non-cotton style underwear
- Lightweight Long Underwear (1-2 pair): long sleeve shirt and long pants
- Heavyweight Long Underwear (1 pair)
- Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt (1-2)
- Soft Shell Jacket: to be worn over other layers
- Soft Shell Pants: very breathable and water repellant
- Mid-Layer Top: lightweight layer for use over base layers
- Lightweight Nylon Pants (1-2 pair)
- Hard Shell Jacket with hood: waterproof and breathable shell jacket
- Hard Shell Pants: waterproof and breathable shell pants
- Heavyweight Insulated Down Jacket with hood
- Insulated Pants
- Warm Hat: synthetic or wool hat (ski hat)
- Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds
- Baseball Cap or other sun hat: to shade your face/neck from the sun on a hot day
- Bandana or Buff: to protect your neck/face from the sun
- Facemask: neoprene type
- Nose Guard (optional): sun protection for nose
- Glacier Glasses: full protection with side covers or wrap around
- Ski Goggles: to be worn in the event of high winds – (2nd pair optional)
- Lightweight Synthetic Base Layer Gloves (2 pair): for wearing on warm days
- Soft Shell Gloves: to wear for moderate cold/wind
- Shell Glove with Insulated Liner: to wear for severe cold/strong wind
- Expedition Mitts: large enough to fit a liner glove inside
- Heated Gloves (optional): battery-powered heated gloves
- Liner Socks (3 pairs)
- Wool or Synthetic Socks (3 pairs)
- Mountaineering Boots
- Camp Boots: warm comfortable boots for wearing in camp
- Booties (optional)
- Sleeping Bag: rated to at least -20°F
- Self-inflating Sleeping Pad: full length is preferred
- Closed-cell Foam Pad: to be used in conjunction with the inflating pad for warmth and comfort when sleeping
- Expedition Backpack: approximately 65L
- Compression Stuff Sacks: for reducing the volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc. in your pack
- Trash Compactor Bags: to line backpack and stuff sacks as well as for separating gear
- Trekking Poles with Snow Baskets: adjustable
- Ice Axe: general mountaineering tool (65cm)
- Ice Axe Leash: harness style, not wrist style
- Crampons: general mountaineering crampons
- Climbing Helmet: must be able to fit over your warm hat
- Ascender: 1 right or left-hand ascender
- “Y” Rig for ascender and safety carabiner
- Accessory Cord: 30 feet (9m) of 6mm accessory cord
- Alpine Climbing Harness: mountaineering harness, with adjustable leg loops. Not a rock-climbing “sport” harness
- Carabineers: 4 regular, 2 standard locking, 2 large locking for use with harness
- Belay/Rappel Device
- Sled Duffle Bag: 150L expedition duffel bag used to transport all gear on your sled; must be waterproof and durable
- Small Duffel Bag with Lock: to store items in the hotel(s) while on the climb
- Carry-on Backpack: approximately 18” x 16” x 10” (46cm x 41cm x 26cm)
- Travel Clothes and Shoes: for days in cities and towns
- Lightweight journal, sketchbook, pencils, pen
- U.S. cash: for currency exchange to purchase SIM cards or merchandise in cities and towns
Additional Food Items
- Snack food: bring a few days’ supply of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. variety of salty and sweet is good
- Cup: plastic 16 oz. minimum cup or mug
- Bowl: large plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast
- Spoon: plastic spoon (Lexan)
- Water Bottles (2 or 3): wide mouth bottles with 1-liter capacity
- Water Bottle Parkas (2): fully insulated with zip opening
- Thermos: 1 liter
- Hand and Toe Warmers
- Heated Insoles (optional)
- Sunscreen: SPF 50 or better
- Lip Screen (2 sticks): SPF 30 or better
- Toiletry Bag: include 2 rolls of toilet paper stored in ziplock bags, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and wet wipes
- Pee Bottle: 1-liter minimum bottle for convenience at night in the tent
- Female Urination Device (FUD)
- Knife or Multi-tool: keep it simple
- Small Personal First-aid Kit: include pain killers, athletic tape, band-aids, Ibuprofen, blister care, cough drops, etc.
- Medications and Prescriptions: bring antibiotics (Azithromycin, etc.), and altitude medicine such as Diamox and dexamethasone
- Handkerchiefs/Bandanas (optional)
- Country-appropriate power plug adapters and power transformers
- Avalanche Transceiver
- Adventure Sports Watch: such as Garmin fēnix 6
- GPS/Personal Satellite Communicator: such as Garmin inReach Mini
- Personal Power System: such as Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel and Sherpa 100AC Power Bank
- Digital Entertainment: movies, tv shows, music, books loaded on to smartphone, iPad, Kindle
- Camera: bring extra batteries, charger, and memory cards
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in leading high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. We have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun! Safety is always our number one priority.
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are highly competent experts in our field and love what we do!