American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Antarctica, Antarctic Peninsula, Mt. Shackleton, South Face-West Ridge; Wandel Peak, North Ridge to Summit Mushroom

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Mt. Shackleton, south face-west ridge; Wandel Peak, north ridge to summit mushroom. At the end of January 2006 we headed for the Antarctic Peninsula on board the yacht Le Sourire. Our Spanish TVE expedition comprised Sebastian Alvaro, Ester Sabadell, Alex Txikón, and I. On the 28th we put ashore at Pleneau Island and the next day climbed the normal route on Mt. Scott (882m). The following day, January 30, we all climbed Mt. Mill (734m).

On February 1 we set out for Mt. Shackleton (1,465m). After crossing the Wiggins Glacier we set up camp on the big plateau under the south face of the mountain. The following day Alex, Ester, and I made the first ascent of this 600m snow/ice face (55-60°), to reach the corniced west ridge, and then followed the crest for 200m to the summit. We tried descending the normal route (east ridge) but after 300m were stopped by thick mist. Unable to see a thing, we waited until dawn, but February 3 wasn’t any better. The mist was still too thick for a safe descent. We returned to the summit and reversed our ascent route, rappelling the steepest parts.

Back on Le Sourire, rain and strong winds stopped us for a week. Later, we moved to Charcot Port on Booth Island, and on February 15 all four of us made the first ascent of Wandel Peak (980m). The huge summit mushroom was deemed just too risky, so we stopped 10-15m below.

We first climbed the rocky north ridge, which after the first 30m of IV is generally easy but loose. This gave access to a snow ridge, from which we rappelled to the glacier on the east flank, between the continuation of the north ridge and the shorter, steeper northeast ridge, which overlooks the Lemaire Channel. Once on the glacier, we found the route to be easy, although one crevasse nearly stopped us. We descended the same way.

The north ridge had been tried several times previously, with the best effort coming from Ed Birnbacher and Greg Landreth in March 2003. They reached a height of 650m but were thwarted by the long corniced ridge above (see AAJ 2003, p.335). We felt a little guilty about our ascent as we later met Landreth, skipper of the yacht Northanger, at Port Lockroy. He’d planned to climb the route with his New Zealand passengers. In fact, he later attempted to repeat our route but couldn’t cross the bergschrund on the final section. After leaving Booth Island, we traveled north, enjoying views and walks before sailing back to the Drake Passage.

José Carlos Tamayo, Spain

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