Libecki Solos Antarctic Spire


Mike Libecki spent five weeks completely alone in remote Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, and soloed to the top of two big rock formations, including a 1,600-foot needle. Libecki was flown to the isolated region of granitic spires, more than 100 miles from any other human beings, in early November (late spring in the Southern Hemisphere), and he experienced clear skies but bitter cold and high winds. He first attempted a huge rock prow but was driven off by gigantic unstable blocks only four pitches up.

After moving his camp, Libecki shuttled loads to the base of the skinny tower he dubbed Windmill Spire. Twelve days saw him to the top of Frozen Tears (5.10 A3), during which he suffered frostbite on his toes because he had to wear free-climbing shoes to climb the route’s wide cracks. Before calling for a flight out of the region, Libecki hiked and scrambled a long ridge to reach the summit of the first formation he attempted.

In early 2004, Libecki and Josh Helling summited a 5.10 A4 route on Fenris, a 2,150-foot turret approximately 60 miles from this year’s climbs. This year’s climbing was technically easier, but the early-season cold and isolation made for an arduous adventure. “I got worked,” Libecki said. “This was definitely a fear factor trip.” Comment on this story