Location: Latitude 78°35′South, Longitude 85°25′West
Altitude: 4,892 metres (16,050 ft)
First Ascent: expedition led by Nicholas B. Clinch, 11.30am on 18th December 1966
The Vinson Massif is the highest mountain in Antarctica, about 1,200 km (750 mi) from the South Pole. The massif is about 21 km (13 miles) long and 13 km (8 miles) wide. The highest point is Mount Vinson, reaching 4,892 metres (16,050 ft) while the southern end of the massif ends at Hammer Col, joining it to the Craddock Massif, of which the highest point is Mount Rutford (4477 m). The mountain is considered the 7th most dangerous mountain climb in the world its isolation, combined with the extreme cold and unpredictable weather on the Antarctic continent, makes climbing Mount Vinson a very serious undertaking.
The climate on Mount Vinson is regulated by the polar ice cap’s high-pressure system creating mainly stable conditions, along with the possibility of high winds and snowfall. Although 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 to January, 24 hours of sunlight per day may be experienced and, although the average temperature is then −30 °C (−20 °F), the intense sun will melt snow on dark objects. Even a small accident here could be disastrous. Antarctica is the world’s last great wilderness and remains virtually completely undeveloped and unpopulated, due to the hostility of its climate. It is a land of extremes which epitomises the concepts of remoteness, harshness and isolation. In recent years, expeditions have enjoyed a good success rate and over 200 climbers have now climbed the mountain.