American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Antarctica, Mount Paget, South Georgia

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

Mount Paget, South Georgia. The highest peak of Mount Paget (9625 feet) was climbed for the first time by members of the British Combined Services Expedition to the Antarctic. Following the route taken in the first ascent of the slightly lower west peak in 1960, on December 30, 1964 the summit was reached by Lieutenant S. H. Down, Sergeant T. J. Lynch and Senior Airman J. R. Chester.

Heard Island. A party of ten, organized and led by Warwick Deacock and composed of Dr. Grahame Budd, John Robert Crick, Dr. Malcolm Hay, Colin Putt, E. J. Reid, Philip Temple, Dr. Russel Pardoe, Anthony Hill and me, sailed from Sydney on November 5, 1964 in the 63-foot auxiliary, gaff-rigged schooner Patanela, skippered by the author of this note, bound for Heard Island, some 4000 miles away. After calling at Albany, we made our westing in Latitude 32°-33° (to avoid the westerlies of the Roaring Forties) before turning south. After a few days at the French island of Kerguelen to sort out stores and landing equipment for the shore party, we sailed for Heard Island, 300 miles to the southeast at 53°10' South Latitude. The snow dome of Big Ben (9005 feet) could be seen above the clouds when 60 miles from the island. After being blown off by a gale and recovering the island, on January 11 we landed a party of five with food for 30 days. The landing had to be effected on the southeast coast, near Winston Lagoon, as from there a route leading to the summit had already been reconnoitered by Deacock and Grahame Budd when on the 1963 A.N.A.R.E. expedition. Two trips were made in an 18-foot rubber raft powered by an outboard motor to land men and stores through the surf on an open beach. On the first the raft capsized in the surf. Nothing of importance was lost and all were wearing "wet suits,” as the water temperature is about 35° F. Having established Base Camp at about 4000 feet at the 1963 site, the party awaited a favourable chance. The opportunity came on January 21. Starting at two A.M., all five reached the summit before noon in good weather, but a few minutes later a storm developed with the suddenness peculiar to those regions and in particular to Heard Island, which has a weather pattern entirely its own. In spite of the route markers planted on the way up, the party had trouble in finding its way down. There are no technical climbing problems by this route, but the violence of the weather and the shortness of calm intervals will always make the climb hazardous. There is no safe anchorage at Heard Island, so that Patanela had to return to Kerguelen to wait. While there, we visited the lower slopes of Mount Ross, the highest mountain on the island, formidable-looking and not yet climbed. On February 10 we picked up the Heard Island party, the surf being so bad that all equipment had to be left on the beach. With the westerlies now behind us, we could steer direct for Albany, which we reached on March 1. We got to Sydney thirteen days later.

H. W. Tilman

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