British climber summits remote Antarctic mountain only 10 people have ever seen
An explorer has become the first Briton to climb the world’s remotest mountain – one so isolated only ten people have ever seen it.
Leo Houlding battled 1,250 miles across Antarctica in sub-zero temperatures and gales to reach Spectre, a jagged peak near the South Pole.
He became only the third person to reach its 6,630ft summit, and the first to have completed the expedition by reaching the mountain by land without the use of a vehicle.
The adventurer, 39, from Staveley, Cumbria, said: ‘I’ve been on a lot of challenging adventures but this was another level.
‘The mountain is as remote as you can get. There is a science base at the South Pole about 280 miles away. You have to go via there to get to Spectre. It’s the most remote mountain in the world, when you are that far out you are completely self-reliant – no one is coming to help if things go wrong.’
Climbing Spectre, which was only discovered in 1934, presents a unique challenge to mountaineers with its series of icy granite peaks. But even before Mr Houlding and his team – consisting of Frenchman Jean Burgun and New Zealander Mark Sedon – got there they had to trek across Antarctica.
Mr Houlding said: ‘Getting there was the greatest part of the challenge. We kite-skied for 1,250 miles with 31 stone of kit each. You need a lot of equipment to survive.
‘When we arrived it was -40C with winds of 60 knots, that gives a windchill of -73C. That’s instant frostbite. You can freeze to death in minutes. Even walking in that environment is a challenge, so you can imagine how hard it was to climb a vertical cliff face.’
Mr Houlding and his partners – who became the fourth and fifth people to scale Spectre – are only the second team to climb the peak after American geologist brothers Edmund and Mugs Stump in 1980.
He said: ‘There are only a few places in the world where you find such mountains and most are well know to climbers, but no one has even heard of Spectre... It’s almost frustrating the two scientists who discovered it were climbers, or we’d have been the first.’