THE OMEGA FOUNDATION

Mounting GPS receiver on summit of Mt. Shinn, Antarctica

Omega Shinn GPS Expedition 2002

Photos     Final Report     Summary of project by AUSPOS

 

New Height!
As a continuation of its ongoing scientific work in Antarctica, The Omega Foundation  again sent a team to measure the height of Mt Shinn, generally considered the third-highest mountain in Antarctica. The Omega Shinn GPS Expedition 2002  took a Trimble 5700 GPS receiver to the summit, via the normal southwest face route, and recorded data for six hours. This data was then downloaded to the AUSPOS website, and produced a new, more accurate height figure for Shinn. The new height for Mt Shinn is ..... 4660.508m!

AUSPOS
AUSPOS processes raw GPS data and is a free service offered by Geosciences Australia.
AUSPOS has been used by Antarctic scientists in the past, but was usually accessed via the Internet connections at one of the Australian bases. The Omega team was successful in using a small laptop, connected to a data-capable Iridium satellite phone, and were the first private expedition to use AUSPOS in Antarctica, and probably the first people to use the system via the Iridium satellite network.

Previous Height
The Sentinel Range was surveyed by the USGS in 1963 and again in 1979. Originally Vinson Massif was calculated at 5140m but the second survey reduced this to the current accepted height of 4897m. The height for Mt. Tyree, the second highest mountain in Antarctica, was also reduced by a similar amount. The USGS topo maps generated from each survey never noted a height for Mt. Shinn, though it has generally been considered to be around 4800m, making it the third highest mountain in Antarctica. There is however, no single, published, accurate height figure for Shinn - neither on the USGS topo map 'Vinson Massif' nor in the USGS publication 'Geographic Names of the Antarctic'. The Omega team believe that a similar situation would not be allowed to exist on any other continent and have therefore resolved to obtain the most accurate measurement possible of Shinn's height. Were it as low as 4650m, Shinn would be the same height as Mt Craddock, considered to be the continent's fourth highest mountain.

Shinn 2001

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Last season, in early December, the Omega team of Damien Gildea (Aust) and Mike Roberts (NZ) were forced to turn back only 100m below the summit of Shinn, due to very bad windslab avalanche conditions. Time and other issues prevented them making a second attempt. Gildea and Roberts had climbed Vinson Massif three days before the Shinn attempt, for acclimatization purposes. Two days of storm followed this ascent, producing the dangerous conditions on Shinn. The Omega team spent 11 days in total on the mountain, only five of which were spent ascending and descending both Vinson and Shinn, the other six days being spent tent-bound at Camps 2 and 3 in bad weather. Very rough readings on the pair's wrist altimeters, at their high-point on Shinn, suggested that the peak is indeed lower than the previously published figures of approximately 4800m.

The Team
This year Gildea climbed with Rodrigo Fica Perez, an experienced Chilean mountaineer, who made the first north-south crossing of the South Patagonian Ice-Cap a few years ago and has climbed numerous high peaks in the Andes. The Shinn trip was Fica's first Antarctic expedition. Gildea has been to Antarctica three times before, having worked as a guide on ANI's 2000-01 Ski South Pole Expedition, guided clients on climbs on the Antarctic Peninsula (March 2001) and summited Vinson on last season's Omega Shinn GPS Expedition 2001.

 

Thanks to Damien Gildea for this trip report!

 

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This page last updated on 16 January 2003