Antarctic ski mountaineering expedition by British team includes several first ascents

Featured, Mountaineering

Editor’s Note: Phil Wickens, secretary to the Mountaineering Commission of the UIAA has submitted an expedition report about a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula aboard the Spirit of Sydney. Members climbed a total of 13 summits in the area east of Cierva Cove, Paradise Harbour and Anvers Island.


Summary Itinerary

The expedition lasted 35 days (28 December 2011 – 1 February 2012) including 11 days sailing, 16 days of ski approach and climbing and 8 days of rest and lie-up.

The 10-member team sailed to Antarctica aboard the yacht Spirit of Sydney with the intent to independently explore and climb, using skis, the mountains surrounding the northeastern fjords of Marguerite Bay.

Heavy sea ice prevented the yacht from penetrating the southern areas of their planned route. Expedition members after making a brief stopover in Port Lockroy, a popular area to climb in the Antarctic Peninsula, instead headed towards Anvers Island and Cierva Cove where very little exploration of the mountains has previously taken place.


First ascents

The expedition made a number of first ascents mostly around Cierva Cove.

In his trip report Wickens writes:

“Despite the proximity of the Argentine base Primavera, exploration of the mountains surrounding Cierva Cove has been limited to a small number of day-ascents of minor peaks close to the shore, and the ascent, from Charles Point, of Pilcher Peak and three other minor peaks in January 1999 by an Australian team aboard the yacht Tiama. In addition, the un-named peak immediately west of Un-named Peak 5 was climbed on December 14th 2011 by the Amundsen Antarctic Expedition, who also attempted Un-named Peak 4. 

The area has numerous peaks up to around 1600m in altitude, and is overlooked by the 2000m high Detroit Plateau, which forms part of the Antarctic Peninsula and which has several additional domed summits. Two large glaciers – the Breguet Glacier and the Sikorskiy Glacier – flow from the Detroit Plateau and terminate in Cierva Cove and Escondida Cove respectively.”

The full trip including maps, photos, coordinates and other details can be found here
. It includes a detailed list of mountains climbed including those that were first ascents.

Phil is currently up in the Arctic. You can follow him at