Mount Vinson Gear List
- Each item on the list below is required unless specified to be optional.
- If seasonal fluctuations impact the requirement for an item on your list, it will be specified.
- Item images represent one product suggestion for that item.
- Item images may or may not reflect the model of item available for rent.
RENTAL RESERVATION INSTRUCTIONS
- Items with a price & check box may be rented.
- Check the box of any item you desire to rent.
- Complete the personal detail section at the bottom of the page, and click submit.
- If you are a non-Alpine Ascents climber seeking rental equipment, please inquire via email.
- If you wish to learn more about any piece of gear, the online Gear Lexicon is available 24/7.
- A printable/downloadable PDF version of the Gear Lexicon may also be accessed here.
- For in-depth articles, pro-tips, and advice on select subjects, check out our blog.
- Our experienced staff are happy to speak with you via phone, or via email.
- The Alpine Ascents Gear Store offers a wide range of products to suit your needs. All registered climbers are welcome to utilize the discount code contained in your confirmation materials.
Organizing for Antarctic Extremes
Antarctica can feel warm enough for sunbathing, but frequently lives up to it’s more common image as a frozen continent battered by extreme storms and temperatures well below 0°F. For a safe, comfortable, and smooth journey, read this guide thoroughly as it will help you prepare for your trip.
You need four different types of luggage for this trip:
- Expedition Backpack – big, comfortable, and sufficient for carrying gear to high camps when we leave our sleds behind.
- Sled Duffel Bag – the biggest, burliest duffel available. Think 150-liters in size.
- Ilyushin Carry-On – 20-30 liters in size, this will be used for your flight to the continent aboard an Ilyushin IL-76.
- Small Duffel – useful as a carry-on when traveling to Chile, and useful for storing belongings at the hotel.
How do these four kinds of luggage work together? Read below to understand the trip flow.
Stage 1 – Travel to Chile
Pack everything (except for a few items mentioned below) into your sled duffel and check it in with your airline. Your expedition pack should be flat-packed inside of the sled duffel.
Pack your small duffel as your carry-on, and remember any usual comfort items for international air travel. Staying relaxed prior to your expedition will contribute to your success on Mount Vinson! Pro tip: we fly with our high-altitude boots and insulated pants in our carry-on baggage. These items are difficult to replace in Punta Arenas.
Stage 2 – Trip Prep in Punta Arenas
Windy but temperate during climbing season, Punta Arenas is on the Straits of Magellan. It’s nice to have a small selection of town clothes with you, suitable for walking along the water or tackling any pre-or-post trip travels. After landing at the airport, we complete a thorough gear check and try to finish packing before the next day’s luggage weighing and check-in. Here’s how we pack:
- Small duffel – anything not flying to Antarctica can remain with you for the night. Before flying to Antarctica, you’ll check this in with your hotel and it will be stored until you return.
- Ilyushin Carry-On – pack this small bag with essentials for the flight to Antarctica. Prescription meds, glacier glasses and goggles, a warm hat, gloves and mittens, sunscreen, and your passport.
- “Go” Pile – we make a pile of gear we’ll wear onto our flight to Antarctica: expedition boots (with a pair of socks), softshell pants, baselayer top, and expedition parka.
- We flat-pack our expedition backpack into the bottom of our sled duffel along with every other expedition item. Anything that goes in this duffel will be inaccessible from check-in until our arrival at Union Glacier Camp (UG, for short).
Stage 3 – Flight Check-In, Briefing, Etc.
First thing in the morning, we weigh and then turn in our sled duffels to the flight operator. If weather is good, we’re reunited with our gear the next day in Antarctica (“on the ice”, we say). If weather is bad, it is possible our flight to the ice will be delayed. This can mean hours of delay, or can mean days of delay. It is not possible to recover our duffels during this time, so pack carefully!
In our street clothes, we also attend a logistics briefing with the other teams flying in the Ilyushin, explore Punta Arenas a bit, and enjoy a final night in civilization.
Stage 4 – Flight to Union Glacier (UG)
After turning over our small duffels to hotel storage and settling up for our rooms, we head to the airport and board the plane to Antarctica. We’re dressed for the cold, as the Ilyushin cabin is unheated, wearing: expedition boots, baselayers, softshell pants, and glacier glasses. We carry with us our Ilyushin Carry-On pack with absolute essentials, and typically sling our expediton parkas over our shoulders. It’s important to pack a hat, goggles, and warm handwear in your carry-on in case a storm is brewing on arrival.
Stage 5 – Hop to Vinson Base Camp (VBC)
After loading our sled duffels into the Twin Otter bush plane, we hop an hour to Vinson Base Camp. The weather is typically colder and harsher the further into the continent we go, and we likely take this flight with a few more layers on. It’s common to wear a hat, gloves, and our expedition parkas for the short flight to the base of our objective.
Stage 6 – Climbing the Mountain
From VBC onwards, we tow our sled duffels in sleds (up to the fixed lines), which along with our expedition backpacks contain every stitch of equipment and calorie of food we’ll need to safely climb Mount Vinson. We’ll stash our Ilyushin Carry-On bags in a cache in the snow, as they won’t be of use to us on the upper mountain.
After the climb has concluded, we’ll reverse the process, all the way back to Punta Arenas.
Well organized and well run. All went very smoothly and safely. Lakpa Rita was also an excellent lead climber on our critical moves on the mountain. All admin went well and the trip as a whole was a success from this perspective. I will certainly be happy to climb with AAI again and would recommend to others.