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South America, Chile, Shipton's Expedition to the Southern Patagonian Continental Icecap

Shipton’s Expedition to the Southern Patagonian Continental Icecap. This expedition was primarily a scientific one and as such had no definite climbing programme. The members of the party were E. E. Shipton, leader, G. C. Bratt, surveyor, P. W. James, botanist, J. H. Mercer, glaciologist and P. N. Miles, entomologist and ornithologist. The programme included the collection of plants, lichens, inseas and birds for British and Argentine museums, survey of glacier fronts, measurements of edge velocities of glaciers, dating of moraines by tree ring methods and general exploration of the regions visited. We spent from December, 1958 to March, 1959 working in the vicinity of Lagos Argentino and Viedma (49°20' to 50°40' South and 72° to 73°30' West). During this time the following areas were investigated: Upsala and Wild Bull valley glaciers, Onelli Glacier system, Viedma Glacier and "Volcán Viedma,” Brazo Sur of Lago Argentino (collection only) and Seno Mayo and Mayo Glacier. Some peaks were climbed during the explorations although none were high and all were unnamed. They included one of 8100 feet at the head of the Orelli Glacier, one of 6500 feet east of the main branch of the Mayo Glacier and four peaks of about 5000 feet on the "Volcán Viedma." The latter is a large nunatak on the Viedma Glacier reported by Lliboutry (Journal of Glaciology, 1953) to be the crater of a periodic volcano. This area was visited as a part of the glaciological programme and was found to be now volcanic. Climbing in this region is made more difficult than would be expected from the low altitudes of the peaks by poor visibility and severe winds. Access to the peaks can also be troublesome because of the thickly matted Nothofagus forests and the incredibly crevassed surfaces of the glaciers. However there is some good weather and there are many beautiful virgin peaks of between 8000 to 10,000 feet. Mr. Shipton, with W. Anderson, P. N. Miles and others, has returned to Patagonia again (December, 1959 to March, 1960) to carry out a further search for a live volcanic crater on the icecap near Lago San Martín.

Geoffrey Bratt, Imperial College Mountaineering Club