American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Cordillera de Darwin

Geography and Disambiguation Notes

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Natalia Martinez and Camilo Rada
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 2014

Mt. Buckland and Mt. Giordano

Mt. Buckland was named by Phillip Parker King in February 1827 and portrayed on the extraordinary nautical charts of the British Admiralty, the main geographical reference for the area for about a century. It is located in a range that branches to the northwest from Cordillera de Darwin, between Agostini Fjord and Fitton Bay, in what is known as the Buckland Peninsula. On the Admiralty map, Mt. Buckland is located to the southeast of the main summit of the peninsula (it is also placed here by official Chilean cartography) on a summit of 1,519m.

However, since late the late 19th century, local sailors have given the name Mt. Buckland to the main summit of the range (1,629m, named Cerro Rudolphy on Chilean maps). Just before the turn of the century, Sir William Martin Conway drew a view from Punta Arenas (Aconcagua and Tierra del Fuego, page 190) that clearly shows this main summit and gives the local name of Mt. Buckland. Later, in 1913, the priest and explorer Alberto De Agostini, seeing that the prominent summit of the Buckland range was not on the map, decided to name it himself. But later, after discussing the issue with some seamen, he was convinced that this main summit was in fact Mt. Buckland.

On De Agostini’s maps, the main geographical reference to date, Mt. Buckland is the main summit of the Buckland Peninsula, and this was also the understanding of the Ragni di Lecco expedition that made the first ascent in 1966 (AAJ 1967) and the German expedition that recently made the second ascent (AAJ 2012).

Therefore, the summit labeled as Cerro Rudolphy (1,629 m) on Chilean maps (IGM and SHOA) very likely corresponds to the historical Mt. Buckland, and is without a doubt the peak that mountaineers call Buckland.

On the other hand, the summit labeled as Mt. Buckland on those maps corresponds to De Agostini’s Mt. Giordano, first ascended in 2012 (AAJ 2013). 

This mountain was misplaced on De Agostini's first maps, and though later corrected to its actual position, unfortunately this error was repeated in later maps by Gunther Plüscow (Silberkondor uber Feuerland, 1929), Mario Fantin (Le Ande, 1979), and Louis Lliboutry (Nieves y Glaciares de Chile, 1956).

Consensus positions (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Buckland, 54°22'32"S, 70°21'45"W, 1,629 m (1,746m GPS measured on 2012 ascent)

Mt. Giordano, 54°27'15"S, 70°12'01"W, 1,519 m (1,517m GPS measured during first ascent)

Mts. Darwin, Shipton, and York Minster

During the third hydrographic expedition to Tierra del Fuego by the British Admiralty, Robert Fitz Roy named the Cordillera de Darwin after the young naturalist Charles Darwin traveling with him, and Mt. Darwin to the main summit of the range, vaguely located on his map to the north of what is now called Pía Fjord.

In 1962, Eric Shipton, Eduardo Garcia, Cedomir Marangunic, and Francisco Vivanco ascended to the highest point of Cordillera de Darwin, and in spite of it being far from the location shown on the old British Admiralty map, Shipton proposed to call this peak Mt. Darwin in order to honor the intention of Fitz Roy, who meant to give that name to the main summit of the range. Two high summits in the same massif were reported as Darwin II and Darwin III (AAJ 1963). Later, the Federación de Andinismo de Chile proposed to rename Darwin II as Monte Cresta Blanca and Darwin III as Monte Luna (AJ 1963).

Therefore, at this point the name Mt. Darwin was confusingly given either to the main summit (as proposed by Shipton) or to an ambiguous point farther east.

An attempt to end this confusion was made in 1971 by the New Zealanders that made the first ascent of one of the main peaks in the area where the British Admiralty map had located Mt. Darwin (AAJ 1974). They suggested assigning the name Mt. Darwin to the peak they climbed and named the highest point of the range Mt. Shipton. John Shipton (Eric’s son) later formalized this proposal to the Chilean authorities (AJ 2004), who accepted it and used the name on the latest IGM official maps. It is also the most reasonable consensus and in our opinion should be the one used by mountaineers.

Unfortunately, the confusion doesn’t end there, because during their climb of Mt. Darwin, the New Zealanders saw a higher nearby mountain with the name Mt. York Minster. In our opinion, this mountain is very likely the one Robert Fitz Roy saw and named Mt. Darwin, and also from De Agostini’s pictures (I mei viaggi nella Terra del Fuoco, p. 155) we can be sure it is also the one he considered as such. Even though it could be considered the “historical Mt. Darwin”, to avoid further confusion we propose to just call it Mt. York Minster.

Until recently, this mountain was thought to be still unclimbed, but careful analysis of the map prepared by the members of the 1987 expedition to Mt. Darwin (Geoff Bartram, Michael Andre, Peter Getzels, and Steve Armstutz) showed that even though they reported a repetition of Mt. Darwin (AAJ 1991), they actually made the first ascent of Mt. York Minster. 

Consensus positions (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Shipton, 54° 39' 31" S, 69° 35' 52" W, 2,568 m

Mt. Darwin, 54° 46' 24" S, 69° 27' 30" W, 2,261 m

Mt. York Minster, 54° 44' 37" S, 69° 30' 09" W, 2,270 m

Mt. Yagán and Mt. Luis de Saboya

Mt. Luis de Saboya was named by Aberto De Agostini after Prince Luigi Amedeo, duke of the Abruzzi, when he saw it from Parry Fjord. Well aware of the former name, Eric Shipton, Eduardo Garcia, Cedomir Marangunic, and Francisco Vivanco decided to rename it as Mt. Yagán after the first ascent in 1962, as that seemed much more appropriate. The renaming was approved at that time by the Federación de Andinismo de Chile, but it was never made official by the Chilean mapping authorities, therefore current cartography still labels it as Cerro Luis de Saboya.

However, as the name Yagán has been widely used in the mountaineering community, and in respect to the first-ascent team, we propose to keep the name Yagán and deprecate the former Luis de Saboya.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Yagán, 54° 35' 42" S, 69° 30' 28" W, 2,158 m

Pico Escondido and Mt. Pelagic

In 1966, Jack Miller, Paul Dix, Roger Hart, and Peter Bruchhausen made the first ascent of Pico Escondido (AAJ 1967).  After a careful review by Jack Miller of the UNCHARTED project’s map, pictures from several sources, and analysis of bearings taken during the expedition, this mountain’s position was determined and proved to correspond to the same summit named Mt. Pelagic by a climbing team in 1994 (AAJ 1995). 

It also corresponds to one of the summits climbed by the 1966 University of Hokkaido expedition (AAJ 1967), likely the one reported with 1,840 m. 

Therefore we propose to deprecate the name Mt. Pelagic and keep the former Pico Escondido given by the first ascenders.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Pico Escondido, 54° 31' 04" S, 70° 31' 48" W, 1,730 m

Mt. Ona, Mt. Fantasma, and Mt. Suomi

In 1966, Jack Miller, Paul Dix, Roger Hart, and Peter Bruchhausen made the first ascent of one of the main summits of Cordillera de Darwin, which they called Mt. Ona (AAJ 1967). Further research proved this was named Cerro Suomi by Väinö Auer in 1929 when he saw it from the sea, and Cerro Fantasma by Eric Shipton in 1962 during his traverse (AAJ 1963). After a discussion about the issue with Jack Miller, we propose to keep the name Ona given by the first ascenders.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Ona, 54° 36' 57" S, 69° 50' 23" W, ca 2,279 m (no height given on 1:50,000 IGM map)

Mt. Lady Jane and Mt. Iorana I

In March 2008, Andy Parkin and Simon Yates made the first ascent of two peaks at the head of the west arm of Pía Fjord and named them Iorana I and Iorana II (AAJ 2008). 

Later it turned out that Iorana I had been named in 1962 as Mt. Lady Jane by Eric Shipton, after a character in a limerick. (If anyone has more information about the actual limerick, in which Lady Jane is a prostitute, it would be highly appreciated.) Shipton named the peak as he passed by its foot during the traverse between Finlandia and Torcido fjords (AAJ 1963 and AJ 1963).

Simon Yates agreed to deprecate the name Iorana I and keep the former Lady Jane. Therefore, Iorana II should be called simply Mt. Iorana.

Consensus positions (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Lady Jane, 54° 40' 12" S, 69° 44' 03" W, 2,250m

Mt. Iorana, 54° 40' 15" S, 69° 42' 46" W, ca 2,020m (no height given on 1:50,000 IGM map)

Mt. General Ponce and Mt. Caledonia

In February 1979, Ian Peters and John Earle made an ascent to a peak they called Mt. Caledonia that they reported as first ascent (AAJ 1980). After a thoughtful study of the descriptions and pictures left by Hans Teufel and Stefan Zuck, we concluded that Mt. General Ponce, climbed during their 1937 expedition (AAJ 1938) was in fact Earle’s Caledonia. Therefore we propose to deprecate that name and keep the former Mt. General Ponce given by the first ascenders.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. General Ponce, 54° 48' 41" S, 69° 07' 57" W, 1,417m

Mt. Catharina and Mt. Gemini

In February 1979, Iain Peters, Don Sargeant, and Dave Harber made an ascent to a peak they called Mt. Gemini, which they reported as a first ascent (AAJ 1980). But later it turned out that this corresponded to the same peak climbed in 1973 by Gregory Moseley, Ineke Moseley, and Brian de Villiers and named Pico Catharina (AAJ 1974). 

Therefore we propose to deprecate the name Gemini and keep the former Pico Catharina given by the first ascenders.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Catharina, 54° 49' 21" S, 69° 09' 36" W, 1,724m

Mt. Jemmy Button and Mt. Vavel

On 2005, Adrzej Smialy reported an attempt on a mountain referred to as Mt. Vavel (AAJ 2005), which corresponds to what the 1970-1971 New Zealand expedition named Mt. Jemmy Button. We haven’t been able to contact Mr. Smialy to establish the origin of the name Vavel, but as this is unlikely to be older than 1970, we propose to deprecate that name and keep the former Mt. Jemmy Button. This peak is still unclimbed.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Jemmy Button, 54° 44' 11" S, 69° 30' 52" W, 2,092m

Cerro Niebla and Mt. Aosta

In February 2012, Franz Goerlich, Daniel Gross, and Robert Koschitzki made a first ascent on Peninsula Buckland and named it Cerro Niebla (AAJ 2012). Later this turned out to correspond to Alberto De Agostini’s Mt. Aosta, named after an Italian city and shown on many of his maps. Given that this former name has already been rejected by Chilean authorities, we propose to mountaineers to use Cerro Niebla and deprecate the former Mt. Aosta name.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Cerro Niebla, 54° 25' 04" S, 70° 15' 37" W, 1,388 m (1,431 m according to GPS first ascent)

Mt. Beyond the Far and Mt. Coltrane

During the first longitudinal traverse of Cordillera de Darwin in 2012, the GMHM reported the first ascent of a peak they called Beyond the Far (AAJ 2012), but this was previously ascended during the extraordinary and unreported expedition made by Douglas Krause and David Scheer in 1990-91, when they named it Mt. Coltrane.

Therefore we propose to deprecate the name Beyond the Far and keep the former Coltrane given by the first ascenders.

Consensus position (from latest Chilean IGM maps):

Mt. Coltrane, 54° 41' 55" S, 69° 32' 51" W, 2,011 m (2,026 m according to GPS 2012 ascent)

Alessandri Glacier, Dartmoor Glacier, and Alfa Glacier

In 1979, during the British expedition by John Earle, Iain Peters, Don Sargeant, and Dave Harber, the main glacier of the valley they explored was named Dartmoor Glacier—a name that has been widely used by the mountaineering community. Nevertheless, this had been named Alfa Glacier by the 1961 Argentinean expedition (La Prensa, Buenos Aires, Dec. 3, 1961) and Alessandri Glacier by the 1937 expedition of Hans Teufel and Stefan Zuck (AAJ 1938) after a former Chilean president. 

Therefore we propose to keep the older name of Glaciar Alessandri and deprecate the names Alfa and Dartmoor.

UNCHARTED project: The notes presented here are the product of research and mapping work done by Natalia Martinez and Camilo Rada as part of nonprofit UNCHARTED project. If you are interested in the maps produced by this project you can find more information writing to natalia@unchart.org or camilo@rada.cl

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