Hard Traverse at Bottom of the World

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Looking across the arête from Grand Ross to Petit Ross.

Looking across the arête from Grand Ross to Petit Ross.

A French team made the first traverse of little-known Mt. Ross on the isolated Kerguélen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. Manu Cauchy and Lionel Daudet climbed over Grand Ross and Petit Ross in a 30-hour round trip from base camp. Though Ross is only a little over 6,000 feet high, the rime-covered volcanic fin is the high point of an island smack in the middle of the Roaring Forties, at the same latitude as the weather-beaten climbs of the Fitz Roy area of Patagonia.

In addition to completing the traverse, Daudet, Sébastien Foissac, and Philippe Pellet established a new line that climbs the full North Face of Grand Ross. This trio and Cauchy also made the first ascent of Pic au Cretère (3,875 feet) via a fine 1,300-foot ice line. Grand Ross was first climbed by a French team in 1975 and had been repeated only once, in 2001; the French team also climbed Petit Ross in 1975, but the traverse had never been attempted.

Scene during the first ascent of the North Face of Grand Ross.

Scene during the first ascent of the North Face of Grand Ross.

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