A chain of alpine summits, amongst the highest mountains in the British territories, these are the icy jewels in the crown with unclimbed peaks that have been unattainable for so long. There are mountains that might take a week to climb from the shore and sometimes rebuff much longer efforts with the foulest weather and fierce storms that can lend fear and despondency into the very soul of even the most determined mountaineers. Mountains that bear the names of men indelibly linked to heroic age of exploration and the height of the British Empire. The savage mountains that spared Shackleton in his heroic quest for salvation become even higher as you journey further south into the Allardyce and Salvesen ranges.
The Allardyce Range
Sir William Lamond Allardyce (1861 – 1930) - £1.00 stamp was a good-hearted man who bore his gubernatorial responsibilities with foresight and success. The peaks that bear his name witness a determined soul who resolutely ascended the career ladder of pan-global colonial administration. This began as an 18 year old with a twenty-five year apprenticeship in Fiji prior to becoming Governor of the Falkland Islands (1904 – 1915) and its ‘Dependencies’, which then included South Georgia. He was subsequently the Governor of the Bahamas (1915-1920), Tasmania (1920-1922) and finally Newfoundland (1922-1928). A career indeed upon which it may justifiably be said the sun never set. His period of office in the South Atlantic outposts included the crucial assertion of authority over South Georgia and a pivotal role during the Battle of the Falkland Islands in the First World War. His prescient understanding of the need for rational exploitation of natural resources and careful stewardship of the environment is now being enacted with the resources and management finally befitting a man who was ahead of his time.
Mount Paget at 2934 metres - £1.00 stamp is the highest summit on the island and stands head and shoulders above the three nearest contenders: Nordenskjold, Carse and Sugartop. This imperious peak is named after Sir Alfred Wyndham Paget, RN (1852 – 1918) who commanded the Squadron from which HMS Sappho was detached to visit South Georgia in 1906, under the command of Captain Hodges. Thus it was fitting a Royal Navy officer, Commander M.K. Burley, led the 1964/5 Joint Services expedition that succeeded on their second attempt to make the first ascent of the mountain.
Mount Carse (2331m) - 75p stamp, the third highest summit of the island, is named after the explorer and broadcaster Duncan Carse (1913 – 2004) - 75 p stamp. As an explorer Carse was both tenacious and indefatigable, characteristics which enabled him to succeed in the herculean task of mapping South Georgia. The superb map produced by his unofficial team served sailors, scientists, climbers and soldiers for nearly 50 years. With the glacial recession wrought by global climate change, only the advent of satellite technology allowed its replacement.
Described in an obituary: ‘to those who knew him best, he was a man of great integrity, as well as a loyal, amusing but very tough-minded friend and expedition companion, whose endurance in the field few could match’. Despite ranging the length and breadth of the island leading successive survey teams, his dedication to the task in hand never allowed him to attempt the peak named in his honour. The first ascent fell to Stephen Venables and Brian Davidson in a lightning dash from their cabin fevered snow-hole in 1990.
At 525m high, Stenhouse Peak - 65 p stamp is a rather smaller mountain. Found a mile to the west of Maiviken on the edge of Cumberland Bay, it is named after another larger than life character, Joseph Russell Stenhouse (1887 – 1941) - 65 p stamp.
Stenhouse was in the other half of Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1916). Supported by the vessel Aurora, their role was to lay depots across the Ross Sea ice shelf in support of Shackleton’s anticipated traverse of the icy continent. Stenhouse unwittingly found himself in command of the Aurora when, with the vessel beset in the ice and the captain ashore, the vessel was wrenched from its moorings. They drifted northwards through the Ross Sea for nine months still beset in the ice in a curious mirror image of Shackleton’s Endurance in the Weddell Sea on the opposite side of the continent.
The two halves of the Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition were destined never to meet. The Aurora, unlike the Endurance, did escape to open water and was nursed the 1000 miles back to New Zealand by Stenhouse. He then served with distinction in the First World War. Stenhouse later returned to Antarctic waters as Captain of Scott’s old ship, RRS Discovery, which was engaged in oceanographic and whaling research. He entered active service for the second time with the outbreak of the Second World War, again serving with distinction until killed in the explosion and sinking of his ship in the Red Sea.
Text by Caradoc Jones
Stenhouse Peak Samantha Crimmin
Mt. Carse Stephen Venables
Paget/Allardyce Martin Collins
Cdr. Stenhouse Courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb
Verner Duncan Carse Scott Polar Research Institute
Governor Allardyce Jane Cameron National Archives
Designer Andrew Robinson
Printer BDT International Security Printing
Process Stochastic lithography
Perforation 14 per 2cms
Stamp size 28.45 x 42.58mm
Sheet Layout 10 (5 se-tenant pairs)
Release date 11 December, 2012
Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd