ExWeb posted an interesting story yesterday about a remote mountain in Antarctica that has begun to see more climbing traffic in recent years, as mountaineers seek to summit the "Volcanic Seven Summits," which would be the tallest volcanoes on each of the seven continents. In the case of Antarctica, that mountain is the 4285 meter (14,058 ft) Mt. Sidley which has become accessible to teams thanks to logistical support and transportation provided by ANI (Adventure Network International).
ExWeb spoke to Steve Jones, a representative of ANI, who says that Sidley presents some unique challenges for mountaineers, not the least of which is its incredibly remote location. Each austral summer, numerous teams travel to Mt. Vinson, the tallest peak on the continent at 4892 meters (16,050 ft) as part of the process of climbing the Seven Summits. But Vinson's Base Camp is located just 150 km (93 miles) from the research station at Union Glacier. Sidley is actually 975 km (605 miles), which could quite possibly make it the most remote climbing destination on the entire planet.
As expeditions have ramped up on Sidley over the past few years, a couple of standard routes to the summit have become popular already. But Jones tells ExWeb that "... a strong party could pioneer its own route on Mount Sidley," indicating that there are still plenty of new routes that can be opened for those looking to explore this mountain further.
Sidley was first climbed back in 1990 by a New Zealander named Bill Atkinson. It was left untouched for 20 years, and then climbed again by a team led by ANI guides in 2010. That group took a new route to the top along the East Ridge, and traversed all three of the mountain's summits in the process. But the volcano reportedly is a wide open experience, allowing teams to discover new routes, and explore alternate ways to climb the peak. It also is a perfect option for alpine style climbing, without using established camps.
While Sidley isn't particularly tall, it does find other ways to challenge climbers. The Antarctic cold, high winds, and unpredictable weather will certainly test any team. It's location at an extreme latitude will also make the 4285 meter height seem much taller than it actually is in terms of struggling with oxygen as well.
With the Antarctic season still a couple of months away from truly getting started, we can look forward to hearing more about operations on Sidley this year. Its remote location certainly makes it an interesting destination for climbers looking for a truly unique setting. You can find out more about the volcano, and ANI's operations on it, by clicking here.