Climbing team attempts to summit 6 mountains in Antarctica
Antarctica might not be the first place to look for a mountaineering adventure. Only a handful have tried to climb the isolated and frozen granite walls at the bottom of the world. Meet the North Face climbing team that took on the chilling challenge to summit six mountains in Antarctica.
When one massive cargo plane lifted off from Cape Town, South Africa, it was carrying 1,700 pounds of extreme cold weather gear and six of the best rock climbers and mountaineers in the world.
Their destination, almost a six-hour flight due south: a rugged and remote region of Antarctica called Queen Maud Land.
"There's kind of an elliptical ring of mountains and there's six peaks that are with walls between two- and three-thousand feet tall," said team leader Conrad Anker.
For a climbing legend like Anker, those walls -- which very few people have ever seen, much less scaled -- are irresistible.
"The fact that it's always below freezing makes it a challenge for wall-climbers… the remoteness, the cliff face and the temperature," Anker said. "Any one of them can get us, but all three together, you always have to manage that risk on a day-to-day basis."
Yosemite search-and-rescue vet Cedar Wright came up with the idea for the all-star Antarctic adventure.
"If you go out deep into the center of that wild, unexplored continent, you find one of the most impressive ranges of granite in the world," Wright said. "I look at it like as a frozen Yosemite… each of these formations is at least if not bigger than El Cap… It just kind of takes all the skills that we've learned in places like Yosemite and brings them to this really wild and severe environment."
Yosemite and its sheer granite monster El Capitan is the most famous training ground for expeditions like Queen Maud Land, and no one has conquered El Capitan like Alex Honnold. This past June, he achieved the holy grail of rock climbing – a rope-less solo free climb up its 3,000-foot face. His biggest challenge in Antarctica? Temperatures hovering right around freezing and below.