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Antarctica, Cape Renard Tower, Attempt

Cape Renard Tower, Attempt. It was reported that bad weather and lack of time prevented Julian Freeman-Atwood and Crag Jones (U.K.) from making the first ascent of Cape Renard Tower (747 m) at the northeast end of the Lemaire Channel on the Antarctic Peninsula. On February 12, the pair were dropped off by the yacht Pelagic, set up base camp 25 meters above the sea, and made an initial foray up a rocky gully to the west. They fixed two pitches, during which reconnaissance the pair found the rock to be sound basalt rather than the rotten granite they had feared. Over the next seven days, however, they also found that their initial choice of ascent lines was also a natural avalanche chute. On February 22 they abandoned further attempts and concentrated instead on reaching a hanging snow/ice couloir that began 150 meters above their base camp cave. A rock ramp to the east followed by one or two poorly protected pitches at British 5a/5b gave access to the couloir. They then climbed 12 pitches of snow couloir (mostly Scottish 3 with several harder steps) before deteriorating weather forced them to make an uncomfortable bivouac close to the base of the rocky headwall about 200 meters below the summit. Further bad weather the following day signaled the end of their ascent and the beginning of 17 rappels back to base camp.

The weather during the next four days was near-perfect. After a rest and removal of their fixed lines from the first gully, the pair made one last attempt over some new rock to their previously climbed gully. A large flake dislodged by Jones while leading pulled him off the rock, resulting in injured ribs and stopping their last attempt. (High Mountain Sports 166)