October 20th – inserted by Pelagic Australis at King Haakon Bay
October 23rd - ascent of Mt. Stanley
October 24th - extraction by Pelagic Australis at Stromness

  Click button for 2.8mb Flash photo gallery presentation.  See below for story.

On the beach at Stromness at the conclusion of the traverse

Team members:
Romolo Nottaris mountain leader
Gianni Caverzasio
Carlo Spinelli
Anna Mattei
Fabrizio Bernasconi
Sergio Brambilla
Skip Novak
Supported by the crew of Pelagic Australis:
Stewart Richardson skipper
Jessica Hay
Mick de Hoog
Mike Galluci

Leaving Stanley Stewart Richardson at the helm

The Swiss Italian “Insubrica Expedition to South Georgia,” powered exclusively by prosciutto, parmesan, pasta and capuccino made a successful Shackleton Traverse between October 20th and 24th, spending five days on the route with four camps. Losing no time with an ideal weather window up front, Pelagic Australis with Skip Novak on board as the local knowledge, deposited the group of seven at King Haakon Bay on October 20th. Here is Skip’s brief report of the crossing and the successful ascent of the virgin peak Mt. Stanley:

Romolo, Gianni, Fabrizio, at the start on the beach at King Haakon Bay

After the obligatory stop at Cape Cove just after dawn, having come in directly from Stanley we were away on the beach by 1130 and found snow after only a ten minute walk. We then disappeared into the mist towards the Shackleton Gap. Navigating with a GPS (backed up by Romolo’s sixth sense of direction) as the visibility came and went, we reached last year’s camp just below the Trident Ridge by 1700.

Towards the Trident ridge in variable visibility

 A quiet night was spent in the windscoop, and by 0700 we were away opting for the middle of the three cols that descend to the Crean Glacier. An otherwise easy descent was made harder by having to lower the four heavy pulks (the prosciutto and parmesan in bulk) with two 50 meter ropes over an icy slope in four stages.

Pulling Pulks on the Crean

Then came a long, ‘atmospheric’ pull to the col between the Crean and Fortuna, again in variable visibility. At 1600 we stumbled across the previous French expedition’s campsite and decided to re-excavate it as after six hours of pulling this seemed an opportunity too good to miss.

 Camp 2 on col between Crean and Fortuna

From here our objective was to climb the virgin Mt Stanley which lies at the base of the Cornwall Range that joins the Wilckens Peaks. Named after Lieutenant Commander Ian Stanley, RN who liberated the island from the Argentines in 1982 and is one of four British officers so honoured with a peak name. A beautiful summit at 1263 meters with an imposing north face, the left skyline ridge looked doable possibly on skis.

Mount Stanley from Camp 2

The next morning after a windy night as expected in these parts, four of us attempted to ski to the base up the Fortuna but were stopped by windy knock down conditions. As it happened the weather came right that afternoon, so we decided to move camp (by riding the sleds ‘au cheval’) a short distance to below a spur for better protection and to be closer to the start the following morning.

Riding pulks a cheval!

Away by 0345 Romolo, Anna, Carlo and myself skinned up the hard surface to the head of the Fortuna and easily gained the east ridge of Stanley and just kept on skinning up to about 100 meters below the summit. Only a short walk with crampons from there and by 0730 we stood on the windless top in the sunshine and had superb views all around – Antarctic and Possession Bays to the northwest, the Three Brothers and Mount Spaaman to the south and right adjacent the teeth of the Wilckens Range and below the Kohl Plateau. Peak Nicholls we believed to be just down along the ridge to the west.

Ascending to Mount Stanley

Skip on the summit of Mount Stanley

The ski down from the sunshine into an ethereal cloud bank back to the camp was the South Georgia dream. After pasta, we broke camp and made it up and over the Breakwind Gap and skied down to the first fur seal near the beach. Deciding to camp and enjoy the greenery and the animals rather than forcing it up and over to Stromness the same day turned out to be a mixed blessing. Because at 0800 the next morning (after Stewart and crew delivered the vino from Pelagic Australis) we awoke to the cruise ship Nordnorge parked close in shore in front of our tent like a giant video camera. Defecating into the sea, our protocol for such when near the shore, with nowhere to hide along this stretch of open beach was an exercise in humility out of dire necessity. . . . And so later that day we carried on, up and over to Stromness in the rain.

Extraction to Pelagic Australis

 The Swiss Italians, all in their sixties and Gianni who is seventy, having been just about everywhere else in the world where there are mountains, all said their South Georgia expedition was “bellissimo!” For me, well, I never ate better on the mountain.

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