The 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
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.
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 Vinson expedition guiding team includes:
Lead Guide Trip #2
AC guide Andy Cole has been guiding by since the early 90s, during which time he has amassed a wealth of climbing experience. As well as having climbed extensively throughout his own back garden of New Zealand's Southern Alps, Andy is no stranger to Antarctica, with three solo first ascents in the Escalade Range to his name. As well as being an IFMGA guide, Andy is a keen sailor in his downtime from the hills.
Lead Guide Trip #4 & #5
French guide Jean-Baptiste (JB to all who know him) is an IFMGA guide who has quickly made waves as a popular and charismatic leader. JB has worked for Adventure Consultants in Europe, New Zealand, the Himalaya and Antarctica, previously summiting Mount Vinson in December 2017. He has climbed Dhaulagiri (8,167m/26,794ft) without oxygen and is a keen proponent of expedition life.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Each of our trips is individually rated according to its physical and technical difficulty, displayed in the icons towards the top of each trip page. You can click on the accompanying question mark for additional descriptions and the full run-down of our grading system is available on our Difficulty Ratings page.
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.