Elevation: 16,050 Feet
Summit Target: January 2020
The highest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson rises 4,892 meters (16,050 feet) above sea level. Mount Vinson is one of the most recently discovered and explored of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks of the world’s seven continents.
Mount Vinson is part of the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, near the Ronne Ice Shelf. Though the Ellsworth Mountains were spotted from the air by U.S. aviator Lincoln Ellsworth in 1935, it took until the 1960s for people to start exploring and climbing the mountains. In December of 1966 and January of 1967, a group from the American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition, led by Nicholas Clinch, scaled Mount Vinson and reached its summit for the first time.
There are five other tall mountains in the same area as Mount Vinson—the next five highest summits on the continent of Antarctica—which are collectively referred to as Vinson Massif. It was named after Carl Vinson, a U.S. Representative from Georgia who served in Congress from 1935 to 1961. Vinson was a strong proponent of the exploration of Antarctica.
Though it is not difficult to climb Mount Vinson from a technical perspective, the frigid temperatures and remote location of the mountain make it a challenging climb. Most climbers take what is known as the “Normal Route” up the Branscomb Glacier, which takes an average of 10 days. Climbs are typically made during December and January, the Antarctic summer, when the sun is out 24 hours a day and temperatures hover around -20°C (-29°F).