Location of Ellsworth Mountains in Western Antarctica
|Elevation||4,892 m (16,050 ft)|
|Length||360 km (220 mi) NNW-SSE|
|Width||48 km (30 mi) WE|
|State/Province||Marie Byrd Land|
The Ellsworth Mountains are the highest mountain ranges in Antarctica, forming a 360 km (224 mi) long and 48 km (30 mi) wide chain of mountains in a north to south configuration on the western margin of the Ronne Ice Shelf. They are bisected by Minnesota Glacier to form the northern Sentinel Range and the southern Heritage Range. The former is by far the higher and more spectacular with Vinson Massif (4,892 m) constituting the highest point on the continent.
The mountains were discovered on November 23, 1935, by Lincoln Ellsworth in the course of a trans-Antarctic flight from Dundee Island to the Ross Ice Shelf. He gave the descriptive name Sentinel Range.
The mountains were mapped in detail by the U.S. Geological Survey from ground surveys and U.S. Navy aerial photography, 1958-66. When it became evident that the mountains comprise two distinct ranges, the US-ACAN restricted the application of Sentinel Range to the high northern one and gave the name Heritage Range to the southern one; the Committee recommended the name of the discoverer for this entire group of mountains.
Temperatures in the Ellsworth Mountains average around -30 °C (-20 °F). The best months for expeditions are November through January, mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere. However, arranging an outing here is a difficult task, requiring either official scientific sponsorship or considerable financial resources.