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South America, Chile, Tierra del Fuego, Cordillera Darwin, Monte Shipton—Monte Darwin, Naming and Reconnaissance

Monte Shipton-Monte Darwin, naming and reconnaissance. In 1962 my father, Eric Shipton, made the first ascent of the highest peak of the Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego with three Chilean companions, Cedomir Marangunic, Eduardo Garcia, and Francisco Vivanco (Alpine Journal, November 1962). It was the first attempt to get near this peak, guarded from the Beagle Channel to the fjords to the north by ice cap. Because their then-unnamed peak is the high point of the range, they called it Monte Darwin. However, they left cartographers with a problem, as the second-highest peak (2,438m), farther south, was already Monte Darwin. This peak was first climbed by a 1970 New Zealand expedition, who neatly resolved the confusion by referring to their peak as Monte Darwin, while referring to my father’s Monte Darwin as Monte Shipton.

In February I engaged a fishing boat for the three-day voyage from Punta Arenas to the head of the Cuevas Arm of Bahia Parry with three New Zealand climbers, Paddy Freaney, Rochelle Rafferty, and Bill King. We intended to approach both Monte Darwin and Monte Shipton. As far as I know neither of the mountains has been climbed since 1962 and 1970, so we wanted to at least have a look at them. We were unable to get onto the ice cap, due to the Cuevas Glacier being too crevassed, but we did gain excellent perspectives of the eastern sides of the two very different mountains. We then made a traverse to the Beagle Channel via the alpine Paso Nuevo Ano, the Vedova Glacier, and the Lapataia Valley. At Yendegaia we gained passage back to Punta Arenas. I have since gone some way with Chilean authorities to confirm the naming of Monte Shipton.

John Shipton, U.K.