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Climb Antarctica

New routes, stunning scenery and unlimited climbing. Our ANI Guides’ favorite Experience

Climb Antarctica

Climb new routes in untouched alpine terrain – Antarctica’s best kept secret

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be first? The first to stand on top of an unnamed peak or the first to climb a new route that has never been climbed before? Have you ever imagined doing these things in the most remote and pristine place on planet Earth?  Welcome to ANI’s Climb Antarctica!

Climb Antarctica is a mountaineer's dream. Explore the amazing, untouched alpine terrain of the Heritage Range, cradled within the Ellsworth Mountains. Steep ice couloirs, classic ridge traverses, icy crests, rock pyramids and hidden valleys – the Heritage Range has it all.  Whatever your level of experience or grade, there is something here for you.

Over the last couple of seasons there has been a flurry of activity and our guests have made some amazing first ascents – Mount Dolence, Linder Peak, the north face of Mount Rossman, and Mount Sporli, the highest peak in the range. Even so, many peaks remain to be climbed and many valleys still await their first human footprint. With new routes, stunning scenery and unlimited climbing potential it is no coincidence that Climb Antarctica is our ANI Guides’ favorite trip!

Read 2011 Climb Antarctica Trip Report
 

Accommodations

Union Glacier Camp
The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at our main Antarctic camp at Union Glacier. You’ll find roomy, double occupancy sleeping tents; a spacious dining hall; fresh delicious meals; and a spectacular setting. You’ll be surprised how comfortable Antarctica can be! Our full-service camp is designed for Antarctic conditions and with best environmental practices in mind. It operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season.

Field Camps
Our Gould Bay (Emperor Penguin), ski expedition, climbing and other field camps are more basic. Equipment must be lightweight and portable, yet still strong enough to withstand Antarctic conditions. We sleep in mountaineering-style tents and eat a combination of fresh-frozen meals, prepared by our chefs at Union Glacier; and de-hydrated meals.

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Activity Level

Strenuous
Strenuous

Strenuous trips include skiing, climbing, and trekking trips where you spend several days or more in remote field camps and you are active for 6-8 hours a day over steeper, more rugged terrain. They can involve climbing and camping at altitude and in extreme weather conditions. These trips can be tailored to your skills and abilities, however a good level of fitness is essential and some technical skills may be required.

Trip CodeTo AntarcticaFrom AntarcticaDurationPrice (US$) *Availability
Season: 2014/2015
Climb1Dec 18 2014Dec 29 201412 days$27,500Available
Climb2Jan 9 2015Jan 20 201512 days$27,500Available
Season: 2015/2016
Climb1Dec 18 2015Dec 29 201512 days$28,875Available
Climb2Jan 9 2016Jan 20 201612 days$28,875Available

Dates & Rates Notes

* We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.

What's Included

ALL ANI Experiences include:

  • Transfers to and from Punta Arenas airport, Chile
  • Briefing with refreshments in Punta Arenas one day prior to departure
  • Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
  • All flights within Antarctica as shown in your itinerary
  • Meals and accommodation while in Antarctica
  • Expedition Guide(s) (and naturalist or lecturer on some Experiences)
  • Use of recreational equipment at Union Glacier Camp
  • Official and personalised ANI Certificate of Achievement
  • A Baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg) on Punta Arenas-Union Glacier flight
  • (Baggage allowance of up to 66lb (30kg) for Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet, Messner and Footsteps of Amundsen Expeditions)

SOME Experiences include:

  • Group camping equipment (when travelling beyond Union Glacier Camp)
  • Group climbing equipment (climbing expeditions)
  • Sled, harness, ski pole pogies (all ski expeditions)
  • Skis, ski skins, ski poles (Ski Last Degree)

Experiences DO NOT include:

  • Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas
  • Flights within Antarctica, other than those shown in itinerary
  • Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
  • Airport transfers other than in Punta Arenas
  • Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent from ANI for some Experiences)
  • Expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays
  • Any excess baggage costs over confirmed baggage allowance
  • Cost for the use of satellite phone whilst in Antarctica
  • Insurance coverage – personal, medical, evacuation or otherwise

Day 1 Fly to Antarctica

Fly from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on our ice runway and settle in at Union Glacier Camp.

Day 2-3 Acclimatization and Planning

Spend the first couple of days brushing up on skills and getting acclimated to the Antarctic conditions. We will practice ropework, crevasse rescue, navigation, weather observations and polar camping skills. During this period, you will discuss and plan objectives with your guide and pack your equipment ready for departure.

Day 4-12 Climbing

After the stunning scenery and unlimited potential, flexibility is the next best thing about Climb Antarctica. What and how you explore is up to you. You can do local day trips and return home each night for dinner at Union Glacier Camp.  Or set out on a 10-day expedition exploring the many valleys and peaks in the region. Numerous ridges and faces await.  Routes vary from technical ascents and easy snow climbs to magnificent ridge traverses with views over the Ronne Ice Shelf and Polar Plateau.

Each experience is unique. And the opportunities for true exploration and discovery are endless. Only a handful of people have passed this way before you and it is exhilarating to think that you may be the first person to stand on a summit or marvel at the view below.

Day 13*  Return to Punta Arenas, Chile

The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

* Schedule
No two Antarctic experiences are the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure.

Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this Experience. More FAQ's can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Weather and Environment

Will it be cold?

All of our journeys take place in the Antarctic summer (November through January) when the weather is at its best. We advise on suitable clothing so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

The interior of Antarctica has a cold, dry, windy climate. Average mid-season temperatures at our base camp range from 10F to 25F (-12C to -4C ). On a sunny windless day it can feel quite warm but, when the wind blows, you will be glad of warm layers and a wind jacket. Temperatures can drop as low as -22F (-30C) in early November.

  • At the South Pole temperatures rarely climb above -13F (-25C) with light winds and wind chill of -40F (-40C).
  • Weather at the Emperor rookery is highly variable and influenced by coastal systems. Temperatures range from
    -22F (-30C) to near 32F (0C) with sunny and overcast skies and the possibility of heavy snowstorms.
  • Mount Vinson climbers and skiers heading to the South Pole should prepare for extreme temperatures -40F (-40C) and severe storms.

Do I need to ski?

The snow around Union Glacier Camp is generally firm and fine for walking. The same is true at the South Pole, Emperor penguin rookery and other fly-in destinations. We have skis for recreational use, but you do not have to ski.

We do not usually use skis to ascend Mount Vinson. The snow is generally quite firm and well-suited to cramponing. Experienced skier mountaineers may contact us to discuss the option of a ski ascent. (See Can I ski Mount Vinson)

Other climbing Experiences may involve skiing to speed up travel on the glaciers. We normally use Alpine Touring (AT) ski equipment. You don’t have to be a good skier, as skiing on flat terrain with AT gear is akin to walking, but those who have some Nordic or downhill experience will obviously find it easier. Guidelines are provided for each Experience.

Safety, Medical and Insurance

Do I need travel insurance?

All ANI guests are required to provide cover for medical evacuation, due to the high cost of evacuation from Antarctica.

We also strongly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance, to protect you in case you need to cancel for any reason. ANI Experiences are non-refundable within 90 days of departure.

Find more information and links to purchase travel insurance on our Travel Insurance pages.

Schedule and Itinerary

Will the itinerary be exactly the same as shown on the website?

Our itineraries are meant as a guide, to give you an idea of the kinds of activities and the flow of each Experience. However no two trips are exactly the same - and that is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. Your unique itinerary will be tailored to your interests and abilities, weather conditions and coordination with other groups on the ice. Flight schedules are flexible and you should expect delays due to the unpredictable nature of Antarctic weather, runway conditions and other logistics.

What do we do when the weather is bad?

Poor weather days at Union Glacier Camp provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on Antarctic themes such as navigation, crevasse rescue, cold weather injury, communications and meteorology. Ad hoc talks by visiting scientists, expedition teams and other guest-experts are always popular. Games, jigsaw puzzles and DVD's provide diversion. Or you can delve into our library of Antarctic books and light novels.

When should I arrive?

For most Experiences we ask that you arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days (48 hours) before your scheduled departure. This allows time for clothing and equipment checks and provides a buffer in case you should miss a flight connection or have lost luggage. An environmental and logistics briefing will be held in the morning, on the day prior to departure. We will collect your luggage and load the aircraft that afternoon, ready for an early flight the following day.

Guests on longer ski traverses should arrive at least four full days prior to departure. We will spend the additional two days getting to know the team, reviewing expedition plans, making any last minute adjustments to equipment and finally packing our sleds ready for departure.

Please note that we cannot hold Antarctic flights for guests who are delayed arriving or who have lost luggage. We recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your trip, without the stress of tight timelines.

Clothing and Equipment

I'm not sure I have the correct equipment?

We provide detailed clothing and equipment lists for all of our Experiences. If you still have questions after reading our equipment lists and overview just drop us a line and we will be more than happy to help.

Booking and Payment Information

I'm ready to book. What do I do?

Please email or call our office to confirm availablity on your chosen Experience and departure. We will ask you to fill out a medical form (and resume of experience for climbing and ski expeditions). Please fill these forms out completely and honestly. If we have any questions or concerns, we will work with you to resolve them. Once these have been approved, we will ask you send a deposit of $US 5000 to confirm your reservation.

Climbing Expeditions

Will I have to carry a heavy pack?

Mount Vinson, Mount Sidley
Expect to carry an expedition pack weighing up to 55 lb (25kg) with personal and group equipment, food and fuel.

Climb Antarctica
Not if you don’t want to. The flexible itinerary means you can do day trips from Union Glacier Camp or a satellite camp. However, all guests are expected to carry a small daypack containing their camera, warm jacket, spare gloves and food and drink for the day.

More Frequently Asked Questions.

Skills and Experience

We customize this unique adventure to your needs, so there are no hard and fast rules. We can develop an itinerary for you regardless of whether you’re a keen hiker wanting to experience some amazing ridge-scrambling or a hard core alpinist wanting to make first ascents of steep ice lines. We ask that you submit a resume of your mountain experience to help us tailor the trip to your experience and ability. It also allows us to make any suggestions for further training.

Training

This a moderate to strenuous Experience regardless of your itinerary. You should come with a good level of fitness, as those who are "mountain-fit" when they arrive in Antarctica will enjoy it far more.

The best way to get fit for any activity is to just do it. However we understand that most of our guests have busy schedules with work and family commitments and getting to the mountains to prepare may not be easy. So your training needs to be specifically based around the particular movements and demands imposed by the activity.

For climbing and mountaineering you should mimic the movements of hiking up and downhill with a backpack, scrambling over rocky ground while wearing boots and traversing steeper slopes. Doing this in a gym does work but sometimes being creative and taking a regular hike round your local park taking in all the uneven ground will be far more realistic and of more benefit.

Hiking with a pack is of use but be very careful when training with weight and don’t overdo it! You are better off developing your overall cardiac fitness than your strength to carry a heavy pack. Running, stair climbing and bicycling also build up your leg strength and aerobic fitness. Climbing walls are a great way to not only improve your upper body fitness but they also boost your confidence, coordination and technique.

Visitor Guidelines

Our guests play a crucial role in helping us care for the Antarctic environment. Please review the guidelines below as part of your pre-trip preparation.

Forms

Map Image Overview: 
Climb Antarctica Location, at Union Glacier
Map Image Detail: 

More map resources can be found on our Maps page

Our Commitment to Safety

Your safety is very important to us and we work closely with you to make sure you are well prepared for your Antarctic Experience.

All our activities are subject to detailed risk management and contingency planning that allow for the remote and harsh Antarctic environment. Our preparations include detailed emergency planning and equipment to deal with all eventualities.

Our team are known for their experience and expertise and we encourage a culture of safety by providing training and support. Our Union Glacier camp has a basic medical clinic staffed by a doctor and medic who specialize in emergency and remote medicine. We keep a 24-hour watch during our operating season and are ready to respond - day or night - in case of emergency.

We maintain other camp facilities and pre-placed fuel caches in the interior of Antarctica to support our flights. Established procedures and communication protocols and continued investment in equipment and technology all contribute to safe and enjoyable Experiences.

Environmental Ethic

IAATO logoANI’s mission is to set the highest possible environmental standards and to use best practices. We believe in responsible and sustainable tourism where our guests leave Antarctica with a greater appreciation of its remarkable natural values.

We encourage a culture of environmental stewardship through training and our activities are planned to have the minimum effect on the environment.