There are no mountains that are commonly climbed in Antarctica, as the continent is primarily covered in ice and has no permanent human population. While there are several mountain ranges on the continent, most are not accessible due to extreme conditions and lack of infrastructure.
However, there are a few mountains that have been climbed by experienced mountaineers and scientific expeditions, including the following.
1. Vinson Massif
Vinson Massif is the highest peak in Antarctica, standing at 4,892 meters (16,050 feet), and is a popular climbing destination for experienced mountaineers.
The mountain was first climbed in 1966 by a team of American mountaineers led by Nicholas Clinch as part of the American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition. Climbing Vinson Massif requires advanced technical skills, physical fitness, and the ability to handle extreme cold and high altitudes.
The climb usually takes around 2-3 weeks, and climbers must be self-sufficient and carry all of their equipment and supplies.
Vinson Massif is part of the Ellsworth Mountains, which were discovered in 1935 by Lincoln Ellsworth during his trans-Antarctic flight. The mountain was named after Carl Vinson, a US congressman who was instrumental in supporting Antarctic exploration.
The first female ascent of Vinson Massif was made in 1988 by Ann Bancroft, who later became the first woman to reach both the North and South Poles on foot. The summit of Vinson Massif offers stunning views of the surrounding ice fields and nearby peaks, including Mount Shinn and Mount Tyree.
The climb up Vinson Massif starts with a flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica. From there, climbers take a smaller plane to Vinson Base Camp, where they begin their ascent.
The climb involves crossing glaciers, navigating crevasses, and dealing with extreme weather conditions, including temperatures dropping to -40°C (-40°F) or below.
One of the biggest challenges of climbing Vinson Massif is the altitude, which can cause altitude sickness and other health issues.
Climbers must take time to acclimatize and adjust to the altitude before attempting the final summit push. The climb is also physically demanding, requiring a high level of endurance, strength, and mental toughness.
Despite the challenges, climbing Vinson Massif is a unique and unforgettable experience for those who are up to the challenge. It offers the opportunity to explore one of the most remote and inhospitable regions on the planet and to test oneself against some of the most extreme conditions and terrain.
2. Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus is an active volcano on Ross Island, standing at 3,794 meters (12,448 feet), and has been climbed by scientific expeditions. The mountain was first climbed in 1908 by a team of British explorers led by Ernest Shackleton during the Nimrod Expedition.
Climbing Mount Erebus requires advanced technical skills, physical fitness, and the ability to handle extreme cold and high altitudes. The climb usually takes around 3-4 weeks, and climbers must be part of a scientific expedition and have the necessary permits and equipment.
Mount Erebus is the southernmost active volcano on Earth and has erupted continuously since 1972. The volcano is named after Erebus, the Greek god of darkness and shadow.
The first ascent of Mount Erebus by a woman was made in 1992 by Karen Lundgren, a mountaineer, and glaciologist. Mount Erebus is home to one of the world’s few persistent lava lakes, which has been the subject of extensive scientific research.
The climb up Mount Erebus starts with a flight from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, the largest research station in Antarctica.
From there, climbers take a smaller plane to Mount Erebus Base Camp, where they begin their ascent. The climb involves crossing glaciers, navigating crevasses, and dealing with extreme weather conditions, including temperatures dropping to -50°C (-58°F) or below.
One of the biggest challenges of climbing Mount Erebus is the extreme cold, which can cause frostbite and other health issues. Climbers must be well-prepared and have the necessary equipment and clothing to handle the conditions.
The climb is also physically demanding, requiring a high level of endurance, strength, and mental toughness.
Despite the challenges, climbing Mount Erebus is a unique and rewarding experience for those who are part of a scientific expedition. It offers the opportunity to study an active volcano and to contribute to our understanding of the geology and climate of Antarctica.
Read more on the best mountain climbing destinations in North America.
In conclusion, climbing in Antarctica is an extreme and challenging endeavor that should only be attempted by experienced and well-prepared mountaineers.
Vinson Massif and Mount Erebus are the two most popular mountain climbing destinations in Antarctica, offering unique and unforgettable experiences for those who are up to the challenge.
Whether exploring the highest peak on the continent or studying an active volcano, these climbs offer the opportunity to test oneself against some of the most extreme conditions and terrain on the planet.
Justin Harrhy is a skilled writer and mountaineer with a passion for mountains and exploring various places around the world. He is excited to share his knowledge and experiences with the Mountaineering community.