Christmas Box Hill

In Z-Fids Newsletter No. 34 (2 April 2014), I wrote:

In an interview transcribed for the British Antarctic Oral History Project, James Broadway (doctor in 1984) recounts a trip to Christmas Box Hill (Lyddan Ice Rise), about 200 miles northeast of Halley, and reckons that this was the first visit since it was discovered and named (in spite of what it says in Wikipedia*) by Bob Thomas, at Christmas 1966. I have a feeling that it was visited at other times between 1966 and 1984. Can anyone confirm this?
* Wikipedia says it was discovered by the Americans in November 1967.

The following comments were received.

Allen Clayton:

Your hunch was correct! Mike Taylor and myself visited Christmas Box Hill during December 1970 with the 'Hobbits', whilst fixing survey photo-points for my Caird Coast/Coats Land map. We located the Depot that had been left by Bob Thomas only after a series of three successive approximations by noon transits of the sun, exaggeratedly plotted on graph-paper. Refraction correction in the Latitude calculation was the big problem, of course. As soon as we were near Bob's quoted coordinates, we camped and did a square search on skis separately on both sides of the tent. After about an hour, Mike spotted the shadow of the collapsed Depot. We dug it out during the next day and re-laid the stack of boxes and fuel cans, helping ourselves to some of Bob's 'goodies' at the same time. We made a careful note of the contents of the new Depot (which also contained some of our own surplus supplies to allow for a fast return journey) and re-erected the old flag as securely as possible. There was an enormous chasm close by, which Bob named Tetleys Creek; I think he had both brews in mind! [2 Apr 2014]

Ian Bury:

Mark Vallance and I were on Christmas Box Hill in 1971, with the Mobsters. [2 Apr 2014]

Mike "Muff" Warden:

You asked if anyone else had visited Christmas Box Hill. In 1970 and 1971, there were a number of visits to the Low Shelf beyond the Gin Bottle mainly to measure glacio lines , but no one then had gone on further towards Christmas Box Hill since Bob Thomas had been there in 1966.

In October/November 1971, Ron Loan and I with the Beatles sledged along mapping what was the new west coast that was left after quite a section of shelf ice broke away the previous winter leaving an area we called Boo Boo's Lost Bay. We then followed the coast North and North East past places until then we had only read of in earlier reports, Muckletappers Creek, Pi Inlet, Harmony Bay, Bacon Bluff and Tetley's Creek 250 miles from base and well to the North West of Christmas Box Hill. Here we ran out of man food, dog food and fuel, my miscalculation. Undaunted, Ron killed a Weddell Seal with the canny blow of a Scotsman's ice axe. We had just enough fuel for brews. The seal we just warmed, but it tasted OK. Hastily, we had to head back reaching base after 19 days out travelling on 13 days covering 312 miles.

Then in late November 1971, John Flick and I with an enlarged Beatles, 11 dog team headed towards Christmas Box Hill to map more of the northern coastline, a larger team to carry more food and fuel to stay out longer. We travelled by night when surfaces were better and reached low shelf below Christmas Box Hill, actually a low rather boring looking mound, but found our way barred by an open tide or strain crack, so we never actually got there. We followed the open water for some way North till we could cross not without difficulty because the dogs were well distracted by some Emperor Penguins that chose that very time to hop out and sun bathe right in front of us. We left a depot, Depot Kilroy, on firmer ground north of Christmas Box Hill for our return journey. I must have learnt something about running out of food from my previous journey. John and I continued mapping the coast past the limit of fast ice in the Weddell Sea to an area akin to the Gin Bottle, which we called the Whiskey Bottle. We pressed on to the Risler-Larsen Ice Shelf. We were now nearer to Sanae than we were to base. I was sorely tempted to press on but I couldn't be sure there wasn't a nasty glacier to cross. It was only that nagging worry that stopped us from heading to Sanae. Instead we reluctantly turned and headed back. John ran out of cigarettes and lost 18 lbs in weight but we had covered 528 miles travelling 20 days in 29 days out.

So no, I never summited Christmas Box Hill. Doc James Broadway is the second ascent yours or did anyone else sneak up there? [26 Apr 2014]

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