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Antarctica, Peaks on Duchaylard and Anvers Islands

Peaks on Duchaylard and Anvers Islands. Our team sailed on January 10, 1994 on the 55-foot sailing vessel Pelagic, owned and captained by experienced American Skip Novak, and made a 2900-kilometer round-trip from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego to the Antartica Peninsula. From Cape Horn, the usual fierce weather was experienced, including a 36-hour storm. After 600 miles, we sighted Smith Island and sailed through the complex archipelago of islands to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula. After forcing a passage through the Gerlache Straits and the Lemaire and Grandidier Channels, the vessel was finally stuck in pack-ice to the north of Crystal Sound. After extricating the boat from this maze, we made what was probably the first landing on Duchaylard Island through complex ice cliffs. Israeli Doran Errel and French climbers Chantai Mauduit and Denis Ducroz climbed the west ridge of 600-meter-high “Mount Duff’ while Novak and I attempted the steep south ice face at Scottish grade 4 or 5 but were driven back by weather which threatened to drive the pack-ice onto the boat. After a return north to Anvers Island, the boat was nearly lost in violent katabatic winds which were driving it ashore. After sitting out five days of storm, Ducroz, Mauduit, Errel, Matt Dickinson, Frank McDermott, Novak and I made the probable first ascent of c. 1530-meter Mount Williams via the east face in 24 hours round-trip. On the descent, we were avalanched and were lucky to get away without fatalities. The island also holds the highest peak on the Antarctic Peninsula, c.2900-meter-high Mont Français, which has been climbed only once subsequent to its first ascent in the early 1980s.

Julian Freeman-Attwood,Alpine Climbing Group