E: Ellsworth Mountains

A Twin Otter ski plane will carry Phil and his team mates up into the Ellsworth Mountains, the highest mountain range in Antarctica, where temperatures plunge to -30 °C (-20 °F). The range includes the highest peak in Antarctica – Vinson Massif, 4,892m (16,050ft) high. 

The mountains were discovered by – and are named after – Lincoln Ellsworth, a U.S. explorer who mapped the mountains in the course of a trans-Antarctic flight in 1935. There’s also a Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica.

We mentioned yesterday that the Drake Passage is named after Sir Francis Drake – and yet he never sailed through it.

Other place names in Antarctica include:

  • Beardmore Glacier – named after Sir William Beardmore, a Scottish industrialist and sponsor of expeditions
  • Shackleton Range – named after explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton
  • Prince Charles Mountains – named after the current Prince of Wales, in 1956
  • Marie Byrd Land – named by Admiral Richard Byrd in honour of his wife

(there’s even a seal named after an explorer – the Weddell seal, named after Sir James, commander of British sealing expeditions!)

This secondary English enrichment activity will get your students thinking about the stories behind place names.

For primary pupils, try this science homework activity which explores freezing and melting.