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Summit of Antarctica, 4897m


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The last continent is a cold one... and on average the highest as well! 

Mt Vinson is the highest point and therefore one of the 7 summits

So to climb the 7 summits, one must go to the bottom of the earth...




Vinson Massif, at 78°35'S, 85°25'W is 21km (13 miles) long and 13km (8 miles) wide. It lies on the southern part of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range. Named for Carl G Vinson, a Georgia congressman and a major force in 20th century US Antarctic exploration, it was first climbed in December 1966 by a combined group from the American Alpine Club and the National Science Foundation.


Four members of the joint expedition led by Nicholas B. Clinch made the first ascent of the mountain on 17 December 1966. During the next days the team continued climbing in the local area adding Mount Tyree (4845m/15,892ft), Mount Shinn (4801m/15,747ft) and Mount Gardner (4686m/15,370ft).



Vinson Massif – Facts

Discovered  1957, after being sighted by US Navy aircraft. 
Height 4897m (16,067ft). It is also 13km (8 miles) wide
Location  78°35’S, 85°25’W. Part of the Sentinel Range and 1200km (746 miles) from the South Pole.
History Vinson Massif was named after Carl G. Vinson, a US congressman who persuaded the US Government to pledge support for exploration of Antarctica in the 20th century. The mountain was first climbed by a US expedition team sponsored by the American Alpine Club. They reached the summit at 11.30am on 18 December 1966 – the first of many climbing teams who would come to conquer Antarctica’s highest peak.

Adventure Network International first arranged a climb of Vinson Massif in 1984. The expedition was unsuccessful due to weather and engine problems, but in 1985, Adventure Network International organised and completed three successful expeditions. Since the inception of the Vinson Massif climbing program, Adventure Network International has taken over 500 clients to the top of this coveted Seventh Summit.

Adventure Network was aquired by Antarctic Logistics who continued the services, up til beginning of 2005 about 950 people have summited Mt Vinson.


(From Damien Gildea's Shinn report of te Omega Foundation:)

"Mt. Shinn has long been considered Antarctica’s third highest mountain. The first surveys of the Ellsworth Mountains were done by US parties during the 1961-62 season, when the first ascents of mountains in the range were also done. The area was re-surveyed in the 1979-80 season, again by a US party. This expedition included, however, two German and one Soviet climber, who climbed to the summit of Vinson Massif in the course of their work. They placed a ski-pole and red flag on the summit, which assisted the ground parties in obtaining a height for Vinson that was more accurate than had previously been ascertained. Thus the height of Vinson’s main summit was reduced from 5140m to 4897m. The official height of Mt. Tyree was also reduced to 4852m, but no height was ever published for Mt. Shinn – either before or after the 1979 work."

Shinn was measured by Gildea and found to be 4661m.


Antarctica Facts:

  • Antarctica is the Earth's 5th largest continent, measuring 14 million square kilometres (5.4 million square miles).
  • The ice sheet that covers almost all of Antarctica is the largest body of fresh water on earth, containing about 90% of the world's ice and 68% of the fresh water.
  • If Antarctica's ice sheet were to melt, it would raise the level of the world's oceans about 60 metres (200 feet).
  • The thickest part of the ice sheet extends about 4,800km (2980nm) (15,700 feet) into submerged basins in the rock.
  • Antarctica has the greatest average elevation of any continent at 1,860 metres (6,100 feet). The average elevation of North America is 720 metres (2,300 feet).
  • The highest mountain on the continent is Vinson Massif,4,897 metres (16,067 feet), situated in the Ellsworth Mountains (see the waypoints page for details about variation of the measurements).
  • The snow fall in Antarctica is so minimal that the continent has been called "the world's coldest desert". The interior receives less than 3 cm (1 inch) of precipitation a year, making it the driest continent on Earth.
  • The Antarctic dry valleys in Victoria Land are among the driest places on Earth. Some scientists believe that no rain has fallen there for two million years. Astronauts have visited the dry valleys because of their similarity to lunar landscapes.
  • Mean temperatures in the inland during the coldest month from -40 F to -94 F and in the warmest month from 5 F to -31 F. At the coasts, the temperature ranges between 5 F to -22 F in winter and about 32 F in summer. On July 21, 1983, the Soviet station, Vostok, reported a record-breaking 128.6 F below freezing.
  • During winter months, low temperatures cause much of the seas around Antarctica to freeze. At maximum sea ice covers an area larger than the continent itself.
  • The South Pole experiences a six month period of darkness in winter and a six month period of sunlight in summer.
  • Antarctica is the only continent in the world with no permanent or indigenous human inhabitants. Larger than the United States, the frozen land is populated by approximately 2,500 people during the summer and fewer than 1,000 in the winter.