Antarctica, Antarctic Peninsula, Amundsen Peak; Island Traverses; Mt. Rendu

Publication Year: 2012.

Amundsen Peak; island traverses; Mt Rendu. To commemorate Roald Amundsen’s team reaching the South Pole on December 14,1911, the Spirit of Sydney transported the Spirit of Amundsen International Expedition (mostly Norwegian), to the Peninsula to make a first ascent of an unnamed peak. This they did on December 14th, climbing a summit on the southern side of the Sikorsky Glacier, which drains into Escondida Cove at the northern extremity of Gerlache Strait. The peak is ca 1,200m and unofficially named Amundsen Peak. (Amundsen already has one mountain named after him, in the Transantarctic Mountains, and some years ago another team, also unofficially, named one of the summits of Humpback Island Mount Roald.) One member, the experienced British guide Phil Wickens, returned to the Peninsula afterward, to lead the Eagle Ski Club Antarctic Expedition [see below].

French guide Ludo Challeat and his team made a number of notable, innovative island traverses, demonstrating the adventurous projects that can be achieved by willing guides with suitable clients. He first made the fourth ascent of Mount Friesland (1,700m), on Livingston Island, during a crossing of the main, eastern part of the island from South Bay to Moon Bay, through Aurora Gap. Picked up by Podorange, they sailed to the western side of Anvers Island and made another ski traverse, from Bonnier Point to near Palmer Station, stopping on the way for (unsuccessful) attempts on Mts. Français, and Agamemnon. They later landed at Rush Glacier on Brabant Island and climbed several summits at the eastern end of the Solvay Mountains (first ascended in 1984), before completing their island traverses by skiing to Terrada Point on the east coast. These trips feature committing descents, over unknown terrain, to a point on the coast where they hope they can be collected by yacht.

In January a British Services expedition reached the south coast of the Arrowsmith Peninsula. A large part of its work was scientific, but one of the highlights of its travels was the first known crossing of the Avery Plateau, ca 60km long and being up to 2,000m in altitude. It sits atop the Peninsula mainland, opposite Adelaide Island. The plateau team crossed from west to east, where they ascended a couple of peaks over 1,500m. This is the first non-government crossing of the Antarctic Peninsula (in its main section, not counting the far northern tip) and probably one of the few crossings ever.

The climbing highlight was an ascent of Mount Rendu, a bulky massif in the middle of the southern section of the Arrowsmith Peninsula. The team ascended Lliboutry Glacier to the junction of the Reid and Brückner Glaciers, and, after one failed attempt, five members climbed the north ridge. They reached the north summit (2,275m) on February 18 and continued across the plateau to measure the main summit, found to be 2,278m. In keeping with other recent GPS measurements of high Peninsula peaks, this is somewhat higher than previous estimates. Earlier survey teams had climbed lower points on Mount Rendu, but it is not known if they went to the highest point, so this ascent may well be the first. In addition two peaks, of 1,175m and 1,032m, rising to the south above Dog’s Leg Fjord, on the coast of the mainland due east of Pourquoi Pas Island, were climbed.

Damien Gildea, Australia