Members' Stories

1-2-5 Climb! Gough Island

Gough Island: South Rowett (836 m), Central Rowett (823 m), North Rowett (811 m), West Rowett (804 m)

Low Hump and Albatross Plain with Ediburgh Peak in the distance.

Gough Island in the Southern Ocean is home to over 200 000 Subantarctic fur seals, some 60% of the world population of this species. And so, in search of specimens for a research project that I am part of, I had the opportunity to visit the island in September this year. While the seals are restricted to the coast, I managed to get the opportunity to visit the central peaks when crossing the island to explore beaches distant from the scientific base. I camped for a few days in a high valley known as Goneydale with the intent of climbing up the highest point, Edinburgh Peak. The 21st of September was a bitterly cold day with a icy wind blowing but it was my opportunity to bag a few peaks. Immediately to the north of Goneydale are the Rowetts, of which, South Rowett (836 m) is the third highest peak on the island. The steep walk to the top took almost an hour, but the view was well worth it. I then followed a ridge first to central Rowett (823 m) and north Rowett (811 m). As I walked I could look down on the island on both sides. To the west was the desolate and beautiful Albatross Plain, with West Rowett and Low Hump on the far side. To the east the land sloped very steeply down into The Glen, a deep, wild and rugged valley. Reaching up out of The Glen was the appropriately named Hag's Tooth. And beyond, anchored offshore, was the SA Agulhas, waiting to take us back to South Africa in a few days time. I continued on to North Rowett from where I looked out across Windy Ridge towards Edinburgh Peak (910 m) and the scarely lower Expedition Peak (909 m). The tops of both were hidden in mist. With a wet sleet being added to the icy wind, I decided to leave to peaks for another trip and walked back towards my camp. On the way back I took in West Rowett (804 m). I later reflected on how appropriate is the title of the first book about the island. Mountains in the sea (1955) by Martin Holdgate describes the first expedition to the island. With its extremely rugged terrain, steep slopes and precipitous cliffs, this small island is truly a mountain in the sea.

Greg Hofmeyr (EP)

Looking towards West and South Rowett from the south.

Hag's Tooth and The Glen.

Albatross Plain and Edinburgh Peak as seen from North Rowett.

Last modified onThursday, 08 December 2016 18:48