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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 11:44 GMT
Australians in Antarctica ascent
From left to right: Duncan Chessell, Rob Jackson, Rob North and Peter Weeks (Photo credit: Duncan Chessell)
The climbers walked for almost three weeks to reach the mountain
Four Australian climbers have become the first to conquer Antarctica's highest mountain after starting from sea level.

The team reached the top of the 4,900m (16,050ft) Vinson Massif on New Year's Day after walking across some 300km (186 miles) of icy expanse.

Leader Duncan Chessell said they were "exhausted but exhilarated".

Vinson Massif, 1,200km (750 miles) from the South Pole, has been scaled before, but never after a trek from sea level.

"It was great to finally get up on top of the peak and look back over the 300-odd kilometres that we have trekked in from," Mr Chessell, 36, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after returning to base camp.

map

The four men set off on their 300km trek on 10 December, using sleds to haul some 70kg (154lb) of gear.

They reached the Vinson base camp on 27 December and moved up to higher camps before setting off for the final push to the summit on 1 January.

The last eight miles involved a 1,200m climb and temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius.

"The view, standing alone on the tallest part of the Antarctic, was incredible - you could see almost to the South Pole," Mr Chessell said.

Mr Chessell, a veteran Mount Everest climber, has now scaled each of the seven continent's highest peaks.




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