Climbing Mount Sidley, Antarctica’s tallest and most remote volcano

Daniel Bull sat at the summit of Mount Sidley, lost in an infinitely white world of ice and snow, and looked out over the edge the Earth. The highest volcano on the Antarctic continent, and the most remote on the planet, the 36-year-old had become the youngest person in history to scale the Seven Summits and Seven Volcanic Summits – the highest peaks on each continent – entailing a decade-long journey of unimaginable perseverance and obsession, treading the invisible crevasse between life and death.

To reach Antarctica alone, Bull first had to fly from Sydney to the southernmost tip of Chile, where he boarded an ex-Soviet cargo plane headed for Union Glacier Camp – the only occupied campsite in Antarctica. A trip requiring years of planning and thousands of pounds in tickets and permits, from there another four-hour flight across the peninsula carried him to the base of the volcano, attempting multiple landings on a thin sheet of ice.

Unlike Vinson, the tallest mountain on the continent, Sidley is rarely ever climbed. It was discovered by an American naval officer, Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, in 1934, but it wasn’t until 56 years later that an explorer first reached the summit. To clinch the world record, Bull was attempting to become just the 33rd person in history to scale the 4,285m (14,060ft) volcano.

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