Image of the "new" Craddock massif seen from the West, by Damien Gildea, courtesy of Damien/The Omega Foundation (click to enlarge).
Vinson Massif & The Sentinel Range: New map - new names

Posted: Sep 05, 2006 02:34 pm EDT
( On Friday, August 18th the USGS Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (ACAN) approved 48 new names for features on and around the Vinson Massif in the Sentinel Range, according to Antarctic climber and researcher Damien Gildea.

Among them are 17 new glaciers, 4 mountains, 14 smaller peaks, 8 ridges, 2 cols, one massif, a ledge and a pinnacle. Nine of those peak names were proposed by Damien Gildea of the Omega Foundation, the remaining 39 names were proposed by ACAN.

New map available next month

Nearly all of these newly named features will be included on the new Omega Foundation Vinson Massif & The Sentinel Range 1:50,0000 topographical map to be published next month.

The new map, based on a very hi-resolution color satellite image especially made for Omega by Space Imaging, was created by Damien Gildea and Camilo Rada from the Omega Foundation, in co-operation with the USGS. Now that the USGS and ACAN have approved the proposed names and the map itself, the new Omega map is now the official reference guide for the area, superseding the 1988 1:250,000 USGS map Vinson Massif.

The new map stretches from Mount Morris in the north to Mount Allen in the south, and includes all the main peaks like Gardner, Tyree, Epperly, Shinn, Vinson and Craddock.

Vinson's Low Camp and High Camp will also be shown on the map, along with Vinson Base Camp and all recognized climbing routes on the mountains shown.

So what's new?

Some notable additions and changes of interest to climbers include:

- All of the Vinson sub-peaks, climbed and measured in 2004-05 by Omega, now have names. Damien Gildea proposed that most of them be named after the members of the 1966-67 expedition, led by Nick Clinch, who made the first ascent of Vinson and surrounding mountains.

- The long, bulky mass south of the Vinson Massif is now the Craddock Massif. Mount Craddock (4368m), climbed and measured last year by Omega, is the lowest peak of the Massif, at its southern end. This is the first big obvious rocky mountain that everyone sees as they fly into Vinson. The highest point of the Craddock Massif is now named Mount Rutford. The two smaller peaks along the ridge between Rutford and Craddock are Rada Peak (4401m) and Bugueno Pinnacle, named after Camilo and Manuel from last years Omega expedition. Steve Chaplin from that trip is also included, having a small 1978m peak down near Omegas Craddock BC named Chaplin Peak.

Mount Vinson didn't exist

For years many people and guiding companies have wrongly referred to Vinson as Mount Vinson instead of Vinson Massif. There was never such a thing as a Mount Vinson. But now there is.

In a meeting with the USGS in Reston, VA in March, Damien Gildea suggested the addition of Mount Vinson to denote the highest summit of the Vinson Massif the one that everyone climbs.

Mount Vinson is 4892m.

The broad col where High Camp is sited for Vinson climbers is now called Goodge Col. Vinson Base Camp is 2100m, High Camp on Goodge Col is 3700m, give or take a few meters, depending on where you pitch your tent.

From Kershaw to Sublime, from Loretan to Ryan

Kershaw Peak, the high sub-peak next to Mount Vinson that everyone walks right past, was never an official name. Giles already had a peak named after him. Back in the mid-90s the USGS had approved the name Sublime Peak but it was never publicized or published. Now it is.

Australian Damien Gildea has led seven expeditions to Antarctica, most of them launched by The Omega Foundation, a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to supporting scientific, environmental, educational and literary endeavors in the Antarctic region. He has achieved an impressive number of first ascents on peaks in the Antarctic ranges.

Damien is the author of The Antarctic Mountaineering Chronology (1998), the only reference book on mountaineering in Antarctica.