Vinson MassifVinson Massif is the highest mountain of Antarctica.
It is in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, which stand above the Ronne Ice Shelf near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. Exact location is 78°35' S, 85°25'W, about 1200 km (750 mi) from the South Pole. The mountain is 4,897 m (16,067 ft) high, and about 21 km (13 mi) long and 13 km (8 mi) wide.
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.