Vinson Massif lies within the Ellsworth Mountains, 700 nautical miles from the South Pole. The expedition has some similarities to Denali in terms of being a multiple week expedition with sleds and extreme cold conditions (our summit temperature was -38 degrees). Vinson is however 4,000 feet shorter than Denali, so less time is needed to acclimatize and is an easier ascent. Saving time acclimatizing means a shorter expedition and less supplies. Since Vinson Massif is located in Antarctica at the bottom of the world, it is extremely expensive to reach due to the complicated logistics involved in getting to the Union Glacier research station and from there to the base of the mountain.
Antarctica (via Union Glacier)
4897m / 16,066ft
Completed Jan 2013
The team arrived in Antarctica at the end of December 2013 and with favourable weather were able to get to the research station at Union Glacier aboard the IL76 Russian military transport jet a day early. Once the team hit the ice progress was rapid, jetting to Vinson Base Camp aboard a Canadian twin-otter aircraft. The team had an average temperature of -28C with a summit temperature of -38C. Conditions throughout were fantastic and on January 5th 2013 the entire team stood on the summit, with Paul becoming the first Longford native to reach the peak of Antarctica.
For Vinson Massif, getting the funds together was one of the biggest challenges. At €33,000 you can bet anyone willing to invest that kind of money is going to be in top shape to guarantee a return on the investment. Hence vast majority of climbers attempting it are experienced (hence high success rate).