Logistics

Paperwork

Please take the time to read the entire Logistics section in full. If you have questions, feel free to call the Alpine Ascents office or email us. 

Make sure you submit the following paperwork to Alpine Ascents as soon as possible after registering for your climb.

⎕  Passport copy
⎕  Flight itinerary
⎕  Flight service forms (linked with confirmation of enrollment)
⎕  Trip Evacuation Insurance Confirmation (required)
⎕  Please see COVID-19 requirements for additional paperwork to enter to Chile

Trip Insurance & Evacuation Coverage

We highly recommend trip insurance as there are many unforeseen circumstances that can occur leading up to a trip. Evacuation and medical coverage may be required for this trip, please see paperwork section above. Please click here for more information:

https://www.alpineascents.com/trip-cancellation-insurance-trip/

Getting There

Note that trip dates include travel time from your home country. A day-to-day itinerary can be found with your confirmation letter.

Flying to Punta Arenas, Chile

This climb begins and ends in the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, our departure point for the landing strip at Union Glacier, Antarctica. You are expected to arrive two days before the Antarctica flight to provide ample time to retrieve any lost luggage and to attend a full briefing from Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (A.L.E)., our flight service. Please see your trip itinerary for specific dates.

Please Note: Flights to Punta Arenas go through Santiago, Chile. You will need to pick up your baggage in Santiago and personally take it through customs en route to Punta Arenas. This is a common reason why luggage is delayed getting to Punta Arenas.

Upon Arrival: We will pick you up at the airport in Punta Arenas. Please ensure we have your flight schedule. Contact information for your guide and/or a local contact will be emailed with your team roster about a month prior to your trip. Please make sure you have this contact information saved or written down while traveling.

Flight Information

Given the nature of the flight to Antarctica, there may be delays getting to/off of the continent. If we are delayed in Punta Arenas, those are free days to tour the city. Alpine Ascents does not provide food, transport, and hotels during your stay in Punta Arenas.

Flight reservations for your climb should be made as soon as possible. Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: (800) 727-2157 or (206) 623-2157. He is very familiar with our international programs and offers competitive prices.

We highly recommend using our travel agent as he can best facilitate changes. Flights back to the USA often need to be changed, as flights to/from Antarctica are subject to delay. If you use our travel agent we may be able to call ahead via satellite phone from Antarctica and make changes in advance, letting you reach home earlier.

If you do not book with our agent, it may be more difficult to change your departing flight and you may have to wait until you return to Punta Arenas to confirm flight adjustments. This generally requires physically walking into the Lan Chile office in Punta Arenas. Please refer to your itinerary to determine correct arrival and departure dates.

Delays: Delays of 3–5 days are common (inbound or outbound) and should be expected as part of the planning.  Please do not plan any important business for the two weeks following the expedition. Our schedule already includes 3 extra days for delays, and should our climb finish early, our travel agent can generally arrange for earlier departure. Delays leaving Punta Arenas to Vinson will result in additional lodging and meals costs.

In Punta Arenas

The scheduled hotel for this expedition is the Dreams Hotel. Alpine Ascents will make the initial hotel reservations. Please note that climbers pay for their own lodging in Punta Arenas. For those requesting double room accommodations every effort will be made to pair you with another climber.

We will inform you if any changes are made to our lodging itinerary. As Punta Arenas is a transition town to Antarctica, hotels can be unexpectedly full at the last minute. You may have a different hotel before or after your climb.

Dreams Hotel
O’Higgins 1235
Punta Arenas, Chile
Phone: (600) 626-0000
Website: www.mundodreams.com

Gear List

Please refer to your Gear List:

You are required to bring every item on this list as described, so be as precise as possible when packing. We are happy to work closely with you on finding the proper gear.

If you plan to rent gear, your rental form must be submitted at least a month prior to expedition start date. Gear is also available for online purchase at the Alpine Ascents Equipment Store where climbers on an Alpine Ascents expedition will receive a discount. Please call our office or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.

Gear Lexicon

If you’re confused by items and/or language on the Gear List, we encourage you to refer to our Gear Guide for explanations on layering systems, differences between boots, etc.

Other Resources

Below are articles written by veteran Alpine Ascents guides that you may find helpful in preparing and packing for your expedition.

Medications & Prescriptions for Mountain Climbing

Women’s-Specific Tips

Not on the Gear List, but in our Backpacks

Packing Tips

People generally take too much “stuff” rather than too little. Study each item before you pack it. Eliminate redundant items, extra changes of clothing, and excessive“nice to have” luxuries. You will benefit from traveling light because of the costs of excess baggage and because of the frequent loading and unloading of bags. Remember to review your airline’s weight limits and pack accordingly. Traveling light may be your key to summit success. Take everything on the required equipment list and little else.

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).

weighconStage 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.

 


mountainconStage 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.

 

 

 

Expenses

Credit cards are accepted at our hotel and in most restaurants. In the chance that we are forced to move hotels, please note that some hotels and restaurants do not accept credit cards but ATM machines are available. We recommend taking approximately $500 in cash along with your credit card.

Early Departure/Evacuation

If you need to leave the expedition early, you are responsible for all incurred expenses (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc). A comprehensive trip insurance plan is strongly recommended, which can cover these costs in the event that they occur.

Tipping

Our guides make every effort to ensure your climb is safe, successful, and as enjoyable as possible. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. It’s difficult to recommend a specific amount as we believe tips should be based on level and quality of services, as well as an amount that meets your budget. Please consider the information below to be a general recommendation.

Each climber contributing $800-$1,000 for each guide is a standard guideline.

On the Mountain

Physiology Of Mountaineering

Dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite, and altitude illness are all important health conditions to be aware of while climbing. Please read our overview of these physical factors:

Food & Water

We are aware of the potential monotony of expedition food and Alpine Ascents makes every effort to make meals a positive part of the climb. This includes local shopping before each expedition, pre-planned meals and dining as a group (in dining tent when possible). We take great care in our meal preparation, understanding the importance staying healthy, fueling effectively, and overall enjoyment.

Alpine Ascents prepares all water by boiling. Climbers will fill water bottles at all meals.

Leave No Trace

Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

As guides, we spend time teaching the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard to get high into the mountains, reaching a pristine campsite, witnessing incredible views, and having the feeling that no one has been there before.

Conversely, there is nothing more disheartening than working hard to climb a mountain, reaching a site and encountering trash, food waste, and toilet paper. Please read the seven LNT principles, and call the office if you have any questions about what you can do to plan ahead.

Updated COVID-19 Protocols

Please note that Covid protocols, both best practices and entry requirements, are changing frequently. While we cannot eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, we do carry out a variety of measures designed to mitigate the risk of illness for climbers and staff. It is important we work together with the same team-oriented perspective we rely on in climbing, and we greatly appreciate your partnership. Please take a few moments to thoroughly read the information below and know that we look to improve our operation as additional information about the virus becomes available.

Entry and Exit Requirements

Vaccination and PCR Testing:

The test must be taken within 72 hours of boarding the final flight to Chile. The 72-hour time period begins from the time the test is administered, not from the time that results are returned. Only PCR tests for COVID-19 are acceptable for entry into Chile; antigen-only tests are not accepted.

Please double check the travel requirements from your selected airline. Some airlines have specific Covid policies.

Entry Forms to Chile:

All climbers must fill out a Chilean Mobility Pass. See instructions below. Please print a copy to carry with you.

Mobility Pass

Everybody will need a Mobility Pass to enter Chile this season. Chile will require this to validate (certify) your vaccination certificate. Validation can take up to 30 days and we recommend you apply as soon as possible!

To start your application, go to https://mevacuno.gob.cl/

The site is in Spanish but if you cannot read Spanish you can click on the Google translate widget in your web browser address bar or use a translate app. If you use a translation app or widget you may find some countries do not appear in the country dropdown list. If this happens, go back to the Spanish version of the page and they will re-appear.

First, you will need to create an account and verify your identity to start your application. You will then need to provide your vaccination details. You will also need to upload a copy of your passport page and vaccination certificate(s).

Here are some links to help you:

Cheat sheet in English

Entry Affidavit
To be completed 48 hours before departure: https://www.c19.cl/llegada-internacional.html

Note: We will have 3-4 days testing in Punta Arenas already built into schedule.

Exit from Chile:

To return to the United States, a negative PCR or antigen test within 24 hours of departure is required. We will assist with obtaining this test.

PCR test to return to the US can be administered after your climb at:

Clinica Magallanes
https://www.redsalud.cl/nuestra-red/clinicas/clinica-redsalud-magallanes

Open: Monday – Saturday 8am – 11 am and 3pm – 5pm
Costs:
Next day results – approximately $50 USD
Results in 24-72 hrs – approximately $25 USD (usually 24)

Masks

Climbers will be asked to wear proper facemasks in all public places while not on the mountain. This includes while in towns, while being transported and while in hotel premises or during meals.

Transportation

Based on recommendations and factors at time of departure we may opt to use multiple vehicles for transport to and from airport and to and from the mountain to maintain better social distancing.

Lodging

Lodging will be in shared rooms and tents unless a single room is requested. Subject to change based on conditions.

Dining on the Mountain

Guides may opt to have outdoor dining and not use a dining tent should circumstances warrant.

Screening

If you experience fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea please immediately contact Alpine Ascents. Anyone experiencing these symptoms within 14 days of their trip date will be asked to reschedule their trip. All climbers may be verbally screened for these symptoms on arrival in Mendoza.

Mitigation Measures

Hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities are provided throughout the program, We encourage you to regularly clean or sanitize your hands while on this journey, especially after touching your face, sneezing, coughing, using the bathroom, eating, or drinking. Common areas, high-touch surfaces, and restrooms are sanitized regularly.

We are committed to keeping our environment clean for your protection as well as ours.

I was thrilled to be in Antarctica. The plane ride over was exciting. The scenery was spectacular. I have always found Alpine Ascents to be excellent compared to other groups I’ve traveled with.

Disembarking on the ice from our Illuyshin 76 private jet. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Moving to Base Camp from our Twin Otter landing strip. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Neighboring Mount Shinn from High Camp. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
High Camp. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Summit Ridge. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Vinson Summit. Lakpa Rita Sherpa becomes the first Sherpa to summit Mount Vinson, and the Seven Summits. Photo: Andy Tyson
Plenty of daylight. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Climbing towards summit ridge. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Ralaxing at Union Glacier Camp. Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska
Mount Vinson, Antarctica. Photo: Monika Witkowska

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