Vinson Massif is the highest mountain of Antarctica, lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronne Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. The massif is located about 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) from the South Pole and is about 21 km (13 mi) long and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. At 4,897 metres (16,066 ft) the highest point is Mount Vinson, which was named in 2006 after Carl Vinson, long-time member of the U.S. Congress from the state of Georgia. Vinson Massif was first seen in 1958 and first climbed in 1966. An expedition in 2001 was the first to climb via the Eastern route, and also took GPS measurements of the height of the peak. As of February 2010, 1,400 climbers have attempted to reach the top of Mount Vinson.
The climate on Vinson is generally controlled by the polar ice cap’s high-pressure system, creating predominantly stable conditions but, as in any polar climate, high winds and snowfall are a possibility. Though the annual snowfall on Vinson is low, high winds can cause base camp accumulations up to 46 centimetres (18 in) in a year. During the summer season, November through January, there are 24 hours of sunlight and average temperature of -30 °C (-20 °F).
Antarctica (via Union Glacier)
4897m / 16,066ft
Completed Jan 2013
Paul arrived in Antarctica at the end of December 2013 and with favourable weather was able to get to the research station at Union Glacier aboard the IL76 Russian military transport jet a day early. Once our 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 is 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 the best outcome. The vast majority of climbers attempting it are experienced (hence high success rate).