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Antarctica, Heritage Range, Mt. Spörli (2,253m), Northeast Face

Mt. Spörli (2,253m), northeast face. Climbers were again active among the small peaks around Union Glacier, due to ALE’s new base near Mt. Rossman (see map in AAJ 2011). Probably the most notable climb in the area was the first ascent of Mt. Spörli, one of the highest peaks visible from the camp and the highest unclimbed peak in the Heritage Range. ALE guides Simon Abrahams and Todd Passey spent a few weeks touring in December with client Ralf Laier and made several first ascents. They first decided to attempt Spörli from the east but had to endure severe weather, during which they made three minor first ascents on nearby summits and one abortive try on Spörli itself. Eventually they skied to a col and climbed a rising traverse up the northeast face to the summit, topping out on December 17. Bruno Spörli was a geologist who worked in the range in the early 1960s, exploring and studying the peaks of the Heritage Range, often in the company of John Evans, first ascensionist of Vinson and Tyree.

Closer to Union Glacier camp, Abrahams, Laier and Passey made the first ascent of Guarcello Peak (2,050m), which was the highest unclimbed peak in the knot of mountains between the Union Glacier and the head of the Horseshoe Valley. They approached via the Henderson Glacier and on December 23 climbed the south face and southeast ridge. Before returning they also made the first ascent of Chappell Peak (1,860m), by the east ridge, and the second ascent of nearby Schoeck Peak (1,810m), via the north face and west ridge. A final jaunt back north to the Soholt Peaks produced the second ascent of Mt. Bursik (2,500m), the highest mountain in the Heritage Range. The three climbed a new route, approaching from the west and ascending the north face. (The first ascensionists, 17 years previously, followed the northeast ridge.)

Damien Gildea, Australia