Yesterday was a busy one on the highest peak in Antarctica as teams claimed the first summits of the season on Mt. Vinson. The remote peak stands 4892 meters (16,050 ft) in height but challenges climbers with its high winds and often brutally cold temperatures. That wasn’t the case yesterday however, where improved conditions made for an almost perfect day for climbing.
The Berg Adventures squad was amongst the first to reach the top, putting several team members on the summit. They arrived on top at about 3:25 PM local time, after taking about six hours to complete the ascent from High Camp. Their route took them up the steeper west side of the mountain, which is more demanding, but made for a quicker climb in the near-perfect conditions. The BA team estimates that there were approximately 24 total climbers from all teams that topped out in this first push. The climbers are now safely back in High Camp and should complete their descent today.
The Adventure Consultants team put two climbers on the summit as well, taking 9.5 hours to make the round trip from HC to the top and back. Their post-climb dispatch says that temperatures were a balmy -20ºC/-4ºF on the summit, which is relatively warm for Vinson. The climbers will descend back to Base Camp today where they expect to hop an ALE flight to Union Glacier where they’ll await word on the return trip to Punta Arenas, weather permitting.
Finally, the IMG team also completed their climb of Vinson yesterday, taking roughly 10 hours to go from High Camp to the summit and back. By all accounts it was a text book climb, with guides making good decisions about when to go up and the entire team executing the plan to perfection. They’re safely back in HC as well and will complete the descent back to BC today.
This pretty much wraps up the first round of climbs on Vinson but there will be more to come over the next few weeks. Considering the mountain is one of the Seven Summits, it is a milestone climb for anyone considering an attempt on all of those mountains. The window for making that climb is fairly narrow each year, so I would expect similar reports from other climbing teams through the end of December.
Congratulations to all of the climbers who topped out yesterday. Well done!
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