American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Antarctica, Mont Français, Anvers Island, Antarctic Peninsula

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

Mont Français, Anvers Island, Antarctic Peninsula. After a five-week passage through gales, fickle winds, heavy seas and finally a maze of sea ice in the mist, the steel ketch Northanger, specially designed as a mobile base in polar conditions, was secured in four feet of water, with her keel raised, away from drifting ice at Port Lockroy, Wiencke Island. Whilst New Zealander Tex Hendry and his French wife Joëlle stayed close to the boat, Englishman Rick Thomas, Australian Marguerite Tierney, and New Zealanders Greg Landreth and I set off to climb Mont Français (2822 meters, 9258 feet), the summit of Anvers Island and the highest peak in the maritime peninsula. Skiing, we towed a sledge for three days along the flat piedmont to our route, Bull Ridge. We pushed progress for two days in poor light and bitter winds to camp at 6000 feet, roped up, as crevasses abounded on the ridge. With limited food, we headed for the summit in high winds. At least the snow conditions improved and we were no longer post-holing. The ridge merged with a steep face, too steep to solo; yet standing around to belay was out of the question. We kept moving to survive. We took a route under twenty three-story-high blocks. After innumerable false summits, at eleven A.M. on January 26, we revelled in victory on the summit. Graham Land lay before us, granite spires amid the waterway below.

Vincent Scully, New Zealand Alpine Club

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