08 August 2011

Antarctica 1959

Here come three personal posts about Antarctica.  This one is about when I was a young man of 22.  The New Zealand Alpine Club organised a trip to climb mountains in Antarctica in the summer of 1959-60 and I was one of the eight chosen to go.  We man-hauled sledges, explored and climbed in the area immediately east of the lower Beardmore Glacier, in fact we were the first people to step onto the Beardmore since Scott. Here is a triptych of photos I took looking up the immense Beardmore on the blog of Meliors Simms, an artist currently finishing an impressive series of fabric artworks based on Antarctica.

http://meliors.blogspot.com/2010/04/antarctica-1959.html

Because we had logistical help, courtesy of the NZ and American taxpayers we included surveying, geology and biology among our skills and we acquitted ourselves well in that respect.  We discovered the furthest south animal life on our planet at the time (Collembola insects and mites), did enough geology for a couple of scientific papers and surveyed more of the Ross Dependency than any team that summer. We also managed to climb about ten peaks, all of them first ascents. I never saw a single penguin! At the end I managed to get employment as the cook at Scott Base when the cook went AWOL into the ice.  A narrative of the trip by Bob Cawley, our leader, can be found in the NZ Alpine Journal of 1960. For me the whole adventure was a life changing experience. Here are a few photos of this memorable expedition.

Manhauling on the Ross Ice Shelf
Camp on the Hood Glacier
Descending Mt Patrick

Mt Kyffin
Summit of Mt Kyffin
Wedge Face Peak Camp


Manhauling down the Hood Glacier.  Photo: Hugh Tyndale Biscoe