With a peak at 16,066 feet (4,897 meters), Mount Vinson is the highest peak in the continent of Antarctica, and is therefore listed as one of the Seven Summits of the World. It is also the most recently discovered, and most remote, of the Seven Summits. The mountain is located in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica overlooking the Ronne Ice Shelf. Mount Vinson is located 1,200 kilometers away from the South Pole. The mountain was named after Carl Vinson, the United States Representative from Georgia who was one of the key supporters of the United States' funding for explorations of the frozen continent.
4. Historical Role
Mount Vinson is one of the most recently discovered major mountains in the world. The existence of the mountain was first reported in January of 1958 by a US Navy aircraft from Byrd Station, a research station established by the United States in Western Antarctica. The first expedition to summit Mount Vinson was extremely well-planned, and was named as the American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition 1966/1967. A number of major American institutions, like the National Geographic Society, American Alpine Club, and the U.S. Navy, funded and supported the expedition. In the end, the exploration of 1966-1967 was a grand success, and one wherein all of the members of the expedition, including mountaineers and scientists alike, managed to reach the summit.
3. Modern Significance
Mount Vinson, being the highest mountain in Antarctica, draws a great deal of attention from mountaineers, geologists, and other scientists to study the geologic history of its formation, its climatology, and other studies. About 1,000 climbers have reached the summit of the mountain up to the present day. Many climbers with the aim to summit the Seven Summits of the World must also attempt to climb Mount Vinson to achieve such. Mount Vinson is one of the most pristine and unspoiled mountains in the world at present. This is largely due to the fact that its remoteness and extreme environment prevent human intervention in the region to some degree.
No life-forms survive on Mount Vinson due to the extremely frigid temperatures prevailing in the region throughout the year. The summer temperatures average around negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 30o Celsius), while in the winter temperatures are as low as negative 130 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 90o Celsius). Precipitation is almost negligible in this mountain region, as it is in the entire continent, while bitterly cold winds might blow occasionally. There are only two seasons in the continent, namely summer and winter. 24 hours of daylight are experienced for 6 months in the winter, and 24 hours of darkness for the next six months in summer. There is also a high risk of exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun, as ice cover on the land reflects most of the ultraviolet light falling on the land's surface.
1. Threats and Disputes
Mount Vinson is one of the most remote mountains in the world, and hence only a few individuals with special permits can actually manage to reach the mountain. Therefore, human presence on the mountain is very low, with only a handful of mountaineers attempting the climb in the summer season. The mountain is completely devoid of any life form in the winter. The cost of climbing this mountain is also incredibly high, and without funding from a resourceful agent, it is impossible for ordinary mountaineers to make their way to the top of Mount Vinson. Thus, human footfall on the mountain hardly threatens to pollute the mountain. However, the effects of global warming does put at risk the ice caps and glaciers on Mount Vinson, as well as those of the rest of the continent. Melting of the ice and snow in Antarctica threatens to raise sea water levels, which will result in the flooding of coastal areas all over the word.