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Highest Peaks in the Arctic and Antarctic

Highest Peaks in the Arctic and Antarctic

For some years Mt. Forel (11,100 ft.), climbed by a Swiss party in 1938, was the highest known point in Greenland. In 1930 the late Gino Watkins saw from the air a group of peaks in Lat. 69°, Long. 30°, about 100 miles S. of the head of Scoresby Sound. In 1933 the Danes, Knud Rasmussen and Lauge Koch, flew to these mountains and photographed them. Lindbergh also flew near them at the time. The British Trans-Greenland expedition in 1934, triangulated the same range, now officially designated as the Watkins Mountains by the Danish authorities, from a distance of 50 miles to the W. after their crossing of the icecap from the W. coast, and calculated the highest peak, which they called The Monarch but has since been officially named Gunnbjornsfjeld, at about 13,000 ft. However, in August, 1935, another British party including L. R. Wager and Longland of the 1933 Everest expedition, landed 20 miles E. of Kangerdlugssuak fjord and after a sledge journey 110 miles inland climbed this same peak without difficulty and found it to be about 12,200 ft. (the official Danish figure from air and ground surveys now being 3700 m. = 12,139 ft.). Both parties carried copies of the Danish air photographs, and the 1935 party carried also the resulting map. This peak is now the highest known not only in Greenland but in the entire Arctic.

There are several peaks on the Antarctic continent of about the same height, including the volcano Mt. Erebus (13,300 ft.), near the shore of McMurdo Sound in Ross Sea, ascended by Mawson and others of Shackleton’s expedition in 1909; and Mt. Fridtjof Nansen (13,000 ft. +) at the edge of the polar plateau in Lat. 85°, Long. 168° W., approached to its base, but not ascended, by Gould’s party of the first Byrd expedition in 1929. The latest maps of the Antarctic do not confirm earlier reports of peaks almost 15,000 ft. high. Only a small portion of the Antarctic continent is yet explored.

H. S. H., Jr.