AC Antarctica 2010


Alpine Club Antarctic Expedition 2010

Expedition Overview

View the full expedition report. See a selection of expedition images. Watch the expedition movies. Read the article in Climb Magazine.

We were successful in summiting 8 Antarctic mountains, five of which were previously unclimbed, two were very significant peaks above 2000m, and one, at over 2400m, was over 1000m higher than on the maps.

After crossing the Drake Passage aboard the yacht ‘Spirit of Sydney’ we sheltered from bad weather at Port Lockroy, where a warm-up ascent was made of Jabet Peak. The expedition then headed to the Lemaire Channel, where the climbers were dropped off in Deloncle Bay, and, using skis, hauled sleds for 2 days up the Hotine Glacier to place a camp at 850m. From here, in partial cloud, the first ascent was made of Mt Nygren (1454m) via its beautiful east ridge. This prominent mountain stands alone between the Hotine and Leay Glaciers, and gave a very enjoyable day’s climbing.

The following day, with cloudbase just below the summits, the team skied across the Leay Glacier to the base of the north side of an unnamed peak that is erronously labelled Mt Shackleton on the British Antarctic Survey maps. The broken north face was climbed to gain the east ridge, which was followed to the top.

Shackleton ShackletonBAS

 Above: Mt Shackleton (right) and the un-named and unclimbed summit to the left, guarded by massively crevassed glaciers.

 Using a perfect weather window, the team then made the first ascent of Mt Matin via the SW ridge. This mountain, which was named by Charcot after the Swiss newspaper, and which is given the height of 1360m on the map, was found to be over 1000m higher at 2415m, making it one of the highest, and possibly even the highest, summit on the northern Antarctic Peninsula mainland.


Above: Mt Matin (2415m), which dominates the skyline when looking south from Port Lockroy.

 Camp was then moved to the base of Mt Cloos, which forms the steep east side of the infamous Lemaire Channel, and ascents were made of the south and north (main) summits, the latter given steep and somewhat threatened climbing up the edge of an active serac band.

After a successful pick-up by Spirit of Sydney and a day’s resting and sea kayaking in Pleneau Bay, the yacht was trapped in heavy ice, from which it had had an exciting time escaping. On the south side of the Ferguson Channel at the entrance to Paradise Harbour the third ascent was made of Mt Banck, before sitting out bad weather and then re-locating to Andvord Bay.

Five climbers were dropped off, in very challenging conditions, on the south shore at Steinheil Point, and after working their way through an icefall, camped below Dallmeyer Peak. From here, as the strong winds eased, they climbed 1500m to make the first ascent of Mt Inverleith (2038m) via the broken north face, from where the views of the Antarctic Peninsula were breathtaking. With a storm rapidly approaching the team struck camp the following morning and, after being picked up by Spirit of Sydney, headed to the sheltered anchorage at Port Lockroy.

Once the storm had passed, we set sail into the Drake Passage, and rounded Cape Horn three days later before mooring for a day at Puerto Williams (Chile), and then on to Ushuaia (Argentina).

Spirit of Sydney

The Yacht

Spirit of Sydney is a 60ft aluminium-hulled yacht that was built as a single-handed racing yacht for the 1986 BOC Challenge Race. Skippered by Cath Hew and Darrel Day, she is a very strong, capable and fast expedition yacht that is well suited to work in the Antarctic.

Phil travelled on Spirit with Cath and Darrel in 2009, when plans to organise a serious mountaineering expedition started to come together.

The Expedition Team

In addition to Phil Wickens (Leader), Darrel Day and Cath Hew (Skippers), the climbing team were an immensely experienced group of mountaineers from the Alpine Club - Mike Fletcher, Oly Metherell, Stu Gallagher, Richmond MacIntyre, Derek Buckle and Dave Wynne-Jones.


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