Houlding and team tame the Spectre

Leo Houlding and his teammates Jean Burgun and Mark Sedon have successfully climbed the Spectre in the Gothic Mountains in Antarctica.  They achieved this via a route on the north side of the mountain and have now sent back images and a report to expedition partner Berghaus which can be viewed here.

The Spectre group of peaks

Although the team’s original intention had been to attempt a new route on the south face, the very variable weather and the difficulties (and extended duration) of their journey in to the area, limited the time available for climbing.  After fully assessing options on site, the team made the decision that their primary objective should be to get all three members to the summit via the “route of least resistance”.  That proved to be much easier said than done. 

Starting at 8:00am on Thursday 7 December, the team set out from camp to repeat the original Mugs and Edmund Stump route on the north side of the Spectre.  The route that they eventually climbed followed much of that, but was also in part new.  It was a fully committed push that was very much touch and go at times, always with the threat that a deterioration in the weather would force Houlding, Burgun and Sedon to abandon their climb.  However, after an extremely arduous ascent, they reached the summit around midnight, and after a quick descent got back to camp safely over 20 hours after setting off.

Mark Sedon and Leo Houlding racking up beneath the Spectre

Because of the nature of their expedition, the team has little time left for additional exploration and climbing before they have to start their long journey home (they still have over 1,700km to travel – man hauling and kite skiing with 100kg pulks), which makes a viable attempt on the south face an impossibility.  Therefore, they have decided to focus attention on their secondary objective – a skyline traverse of the Organ Pipe Peaks.


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