It’s that time of the year again when various people will be preparing for their expedition to Mount Sidley. Mount Sidley, by way of reminder, is the highest volcano in Antarctica and therefore one of the Volcanic Seven Summits.
As I have previously blogged, the Volcanic Seven Summits challenge is becoming more popular and this year’s expedition is likely to see at least two more people complete the challenge. Up to now Russians and those from predominantly English speaking nations have dominated.
We may now be starting to see a change in this.
The first of the two to whom I refer is Satyarup Siddhanta. He is a 35 year old Indian who currently lives in Bangalore but is originally from West Bengal. He is a software engineer. Satya has been focused on the Volcanic Seven Summits since completing the continental Seven Summits on Mount Vinson in December 2017. So he has made quick work of the remaining volcanic summits, even climbing Kilimanjaro for a second time in June 2018.
Assuming he summits Sidley he will become the first Indian to complete the Volcanic Seven Summits. He will also be the youngest person to do the Volcanic Seven Summits/Seven Summits combination, beating Australian Dan Bull. He will also be only the eighth person to have done the Volcanic Seven Summits together with the Carstenz version of the Seven Summits.
So much for the stats. From a UK perspective it is interesting to see how much interest the press in India are taking in Satya’s endeavours. There is a large degree of national pride which is rarely seen in the UK – or perhaps Satya just has a good PR machine behind him. But a Google search reveals numerous articles in both national and local press on each climb he undertakes.
His sixth volcano was Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, which he summited earlier this month. That climb was quite an epic. Snow conditions on the Jamapa glacier, which covers much of the upper northern reaches of the mountain, were a bit lean. On the descent rockfall struck him and his guide and his guide broke his pelvis. Satya escaped with fairly superficial injuries. A third member of the group was unhurt.
Another interesting fact about Satya is that he was, unwittingly, the centre of a controversy regarding an Everest ascent. He had shared his Everest summit photos. During the same 2016 season, a husband and wife (who were also Indian as it happens), claimed an ascent of Everest. They photoshopped an image of the wife on to Satya’s photo as “evidence” of their ascent. The husband did the same on someone else’s photo. The couple were soon rumbled. Nepal imposed a 10 year ban on climbing on the couple.
The second person is Sándor (Sanya) Tóth, a 41 year old Hungarian. Sanya started out by climbing Kilimanjaro in January 2016 with his sixth volcano being Mount Giluwe in August 2017. So Sanya is hoping to be the first Hungarian to complete the challenge.
Even the Hungarian press is taking some interest in what Sanya is looking to achieve. Like me he has not attempted the Seven Summits. He is also not a professional mountaineer. He is a stonemason by trade and married with kids.
Best of luck to the two of them and the others on the Sidley trip. The weather in Antarctica has been a little abnormal during the early part of the season. ALE only managed one flight to and from Union Glacier during two weeks in the middle of this month. Whilst delays of two or three days are common, this is unusual. Anyone contemplating journeys into the depths of the continent needs to have flexible arrangements!