Antarctica, Ellsworth Mountains—Sentinel Range, End of the Omega Foundation and New Vinson Map

Publication Year: 2008.

End of the Omega Foundation and new Vinson map. This expedition [above report] ends the GPS surveying work of the Omega Foundation in Antarctica. Since 2001, the Foundation has generously supported seven GPS expeditions to Antarctica—six of them to the Sentinel Range plus one to re-measure the highest mountain on Livingston Island, of which we produced a new map. In the course of this work we have made the first ascents of 17 previously unclimbed peaks, four second ascents, all by new routes, and numerous other climbs and traverses, most of them firsts, including new routes on both Vinson and Shinn, and ascents of five of Antarctica’s seven highest mountains. All these points, and many more, have been surveyed with our Trimble 5700 GPS receiver and the resulting data processed by the Australian Government’s AUSPOS facility. In keeping with the original aims of the Foundation, this data has been shared with the government Antarctic programs of the United States, Britain, and Chile in the interests of scientific co-operation and as a contribution to the greater body of Antarctic science. As of 2006, our data has been added to a specially-tasked, 4m resolution, cloud-free, IKONOS color satellite image mosaic, with contours generated from Aster imagery, which forms the basis of the new 1:50,000 Vinson Massif & The Sentinel Range map produced by Camilo Rada and me for the Omega Foundation. The map contains only official names— those recognized by the USGS Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names. Most of these names were suggested by the USGS for features newly identified from our work. I nominated three of my Omega team members for feature names in the resurveyed Craddock Massif, plus the eight previously unrecognized members of the 1966–67 Vinson first ascent team, so that their historical effort would be recognized on the Vinson Massif itself.

None of this would have happened without the incredibly generous support from the Omega Foundation, not only financially, but also in terms of constancy and flexibility. We have also had great support, beyond the call of duty or commerce, from all over the world, including the management and staff of ALE, specialists at AUSPOS and the USGS, and numerous friends, suppliers and colleagues, from Cambridge to Punta Arenas and all geodetic waypoints in between.

My teammates consider themselves very lucky to have been on these expeditions, and I consider myself fortunate to have been on the ice with them—Mike Roberts, Rodrigo Fica, John Bath, Osvaldo Usaj, Steve Chaplin, Manuel Bugueno, Jed Brown, Pachi Ibarra, Jarmila Tyrril and particularly, Camilo Rada. Without Camilo our efforts would not have been nearly as successful or productive as they have been. But also with us every meter was the head of the Omega Foundation, Bob Elias, whose vision, patience and unprecedented generosity have made all this possible.

Damien Gildea, Australia