Located on Bryde Island in the western part of the Antarctic Peninsula, Humpback Peak is not a major peak in the grand scheme of things. Rising from the sea to approximately 750 meters, the peak is still a challenge. Climbing even minor peaks in Antarctica is exhilarating and there seems to be virtually nothing that is technically insignificant there. Almost all peaks involve glacier travel across monster crevasse fields and most summits are capped by snow and cornices. Anything you are lucky to climb will be challenging and somewhat technical. Humpback Peaks (there are actually two I believe) have been named by Aurora Expeditions and official recognition of the name is still pending. I really am posting this entry so everyone here can see that even modestly experienced recreational climbers can get a first ascent because Antarctica is literally crammed with unclimbed summits.
Of course the getting there is the problem. It is pretty much impossible to mount your own private trip to Antarctica (maybe if you were Bill Gates). You have to go with an outfitter and most of the cruise lines barely offer you the opportunity to go on shore, much less climb a peak. We went with Aurora Expeditions at http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/
I can’t say enough good things about these guys. The expedition leader and co-owner of the company is the well-known Australian climber Greg Mortimer. He does a tremendous amount of work to see that people on his trips can pursue their favorite activities, including kayaking, diving, climbing and skiing. Their trips are very reasonably priced (from about $4000 US), some of the less expensive that go down there. While you are not living in the lap of luxury, the accommodations are excellent and comfortable, the crew is outstanding and you will have every chance possible to climb mountains. The other expedition group I know that does climbing down South is called Adventure Network International at http://www.adventure-network.com/ I have not personally done anything with them, mostly because they were fairly expensive, but they look fantastic. They offer some ambitious and exciting looking trips including the Vinson Massif at the cost of $26,000 US per person. I hope if someone goes on one of their climbing or ski trips that you will post it here! ANI is the only commercial outfitter that I am aware of who maintains a base on the continent. Don’t forget to admire the abundant wildlife while you are there!
Aurora Expenditions uses the Argentinian town of Ushuaia as its jumping off point (I don't know what ANI uses). Ushuaia is a quaint tourist town next to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which itself is chock full of impressive looking mountains. The prices do not include getting to Ushuaia. Once there, you board an ice-class ship and cross the Drake Passage, including 2 days of seasickness. Once on the Peninsula there are many options, every little island contains towering peaks and massive glaciers.
Since you are going with a commercial outfitter they take care of any red tape.
When To Climb
December through February is the Antarctic summer. This is the only time to visit as the winters are unimaginably harsh.
Aurora usually has one camping night, but most of their climbs are day trips. ANI offers more extensive on shore excursions, but I would contact them for more information
In the summer the temperatures ranges from 5 degrees to about 40 degrees F. The weather can be very unstable, sunny and rather warm, then suddenly a snow storm comes in and you are in a white out. There can also be rain and sleet, which are pretty miserable conditions for glacier travel. I stress that if you go with Aurora you will be accessing all climbs from the ship via zodiac rafts. This means there is a potential to be soaked by waves before you even set foot on the snow. I highly recommend extras of everything, outerwear, lots of mittens, and socks especially. Line your pack with a plastic bag or other waterproof barrier and bring a dry bag for camera equipment. They will supply gum boots for use in the zodiacs. Also, it will be light most of the time, particularly if you are close to the solstice (Dec 21). We were there in December and it basically never got dark, only a couple hours of twilight. This means you can wait for bad weather to clear during the day and climb at night!
- Aurora Expeditions
This is the Aurora Expeditions homepage. You can learn about their Antarctic climbing trips as well as trips they do in the Northern latitudes.
- Adventure Network International
ANI runs a number of very exciting and challenging trips to Antarctica. This page describes all current offerings.