Vinson Massif

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Vinson Massif is the highest mountain of Antarctica, located about 1,200 km (750 mi) from the South Pole. The mountain is about 21 km (13 mi) long and 13 km (8 mi) wide. The southern end of the massif is capped by Mount Craddock (4,650m).

It is in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronne Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The massif's existence was unsuspected until 1957, when it was spotted by US Navy aircraft. It was named after Carl Vinson (also the namesake of an aircraft carrier), a Georgia congressman who was a key supporter of funding for Antarctic research.

In 1963, the American Alpine Club began lobbying the National Science Foundation to support an expedition to climb Vinson, in part to forestall the efforts of Woodrow Wilson Sayre, who had developed a reputation for problematic trips (the concern in this case was that a private expedition in trouble would require a difficult and dangerous rescue). The Alpine Club finally got permission in 1966, and with the help of the Navy, who flew the climbers to the Sentinel Range on a ski-equipped C-130 Hercules, a group of four climbers led by Nicholas B. Clinch reached the summit on December 18, 1966.

The climb of Vinson offers little technical difficulty beyond the usual hazards of travel in Antarctica, and as one of the Seven Summits, it has received much attention from well-heeled climbers in recent years; between 1985 and 2000, Adventure Network International (the only organization that runs private expeditions to Vinson) has guided over 450 climbers to the summit.

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) recently purchased Adventure Network International. ALE is now the only company offering flights to Vinson Massif. ALE, as well as several other companies, now guide clients up Vinson Massif.

First ascent from East Face

While the vast majority of prior climbs to the summit have used the western side of the massif from the Branscomb Glacier, the first ascent from the east side was successfully completed by an eight-person team sponsored by Nova in January 2001. The team consisted of:

  • Conrad Anker - expedition leader
  • Jon Krakauer - mountaineer and author
  • Dave Hahn - mountain guide with 19 ascents from the established route
  • Andrew Mclean - extreme skier
  • Dan Stone - glaciologist
  • Lisel Clark - producer (who also became the first woman to make an ascent from this side)
  • John Armstrong - cameraman
  • Rob Raker - assistant cameraman and sound recording

The team not only made the first ascent from the east side but also performed scientific research into snow accumulation at different elevations as well as taking the first ground based GPS reading from the summit. The GPS reading gave the elevation of the highest point in Antarctica as 4,897 metres (16,077 ft), eclipsing the earlier established heights recorded in 1959 and 1979.

Another first was the successful aircraft landing of a Twin Otter on the Upper Dater Glacier on the eastern slopes of Vinson Massif.

Nova named the production Mountain of Ice, which first aired on PBS in February 2003.

External link

es:Macizo Vinson nl:Vinson Massif ja:ヴィンソン・マシフ pl:Vinson sk:Vinson Massif

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