The Alps Under Antarctica

Scientists find an 'Alps-sized' mountain range two miles beneath Antarctic ice sheet

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<TMPL_VAR MEDIA_FILES.USE.15922>In the realm of impossibly-hard-to-climb mountains, we can now add a new range that even dwarfs the challenge of giants like K2 and The Ogre—the Gamburtsev Range.

But before you get a rope team together and grab a GPS in hopes of an ascent, there’s just one catch, and it’s a big one: You’ll find the Gamburtsev Mountains buried two miles under the world’s largest Antarctic ice sheet.

Researchers spent a solid six weeks flying aircraft an astonishing 75,000 miles, in temps around -30 Celsius, in order to map the range of mountains that some are calling “the last unexplored mountains on the planet.”

For mountain-obsessed junkies, this is a momentous find. The ice-encased, Alps-sized range boasts peaks as tall as Mount Blanc, deep valleys, and the 187-mile-long Lake Vostok, similar in size to Lake Ontario. Scientists had only expected to find a vast, flat plateau.

Researchers believe the range had some ice-free days above ground in the past, and they hope their work will aid in research about climate change and how the massive ice sheet initially formed.

The scientific team, led by British Antarctic Survey’s Geophysicist Dr. Fausto Ferraccioli and including the Antarctic Gamburstev Province (a U.S.-led multinational group of scientists), used state-of-the-art imaging and radar instruments to map 386,000 square miles of the range.

Ferraccioli was quoted as saying, “Our big challenge now is to dive into the data [for] a better understanding of what happened. Our findings are like the first page of a big book.”

Anyone up for a trip to Antarctica for some ice digging/reverse climbing? It’s only 10,560 feet down.

–Matt Draper

Scientists discover Alps-scale mountain range under Antarctic ice (Telegraph)

Image Credit: es0teric

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