Antarctica, Ellsworth Mountains, Various Ascents

Publication Year: 1998.

Antarctica, Various Ascents. From December 3,1997 to January 19, 1998,I was in Antarctica, providing light service and ground support for scientific and recreational expeditions for Adventure Network International (ANI). During that time, I was involved with the following ascents: Minaret, a marble tower located 20 kilometers from Patriot Hills Base Camp. Alex Lowe, Steve Pinfield (camp manager, Patriot Hills) and I made the first ascent (IV 5.10 A0) on December 8. The climb involved loose rock, but generally was moderate with one 5.10 X (serious) pitch led by Alex. On December 14, Alex, Dave Hahn and I climbed Pyramid Peak (a.k.a. Peak Gyska after the first ascensionist who died in a glacier fall), a quartzite peak located on the northern end of the Patton Glacier. The climb was moderate scrambling for 1300 meters to a snow summit. A French military expedition had made the first ascent of this peak two weeks earlier. On December 16, on Mt. Tyree, the second highest peak in Antarctica, Alex Lowe and I climbed the Grand Couloir on the east face. The route was first climbed by a French Military team three weeks prior. Mt. Tyree’s first ascent was in 1966; the second was made by Mugs Stump in November, 1989; the third, by the French; and the fourth by Alex and I. I made a repeat of the Grand Coliour, established by a French Military team three weeks prior. The climb involved 2400 meters of snow, ice and some rock scrambling. On Mt. Vinson, I did the standard route with a client (December 30), then climbed Mt. Shinn on New Year’s Eve in - 35°C+ wind-chill temperatures in two hours, 15 minutes. Anselme Baud (France) and I made a ski descent of the south ice stream on the west face (45-55°, 1900m) of a sub-peak of Mt. Vinson on January 2. (This sub-peak first was ascended by Jay Smith and Jo Bentley in the 1993-’94 season.) I then made a speed ascent (January 7) of the normal route on Vinson in nine hours 11 minutes round trip from Vinson Base Camp on the Branscomb Glacier in less than ideal weather. It’s basically an intermediate ski run. On January, 15-16, I soloed Peak Loretan (5.8 80°) between Tyree and Epperly—2100 meters of alpine climbing on solid quartzite. (A complete account of this climb appears earlier in this journal.)

Conrad Anker