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Antarctic peak named in memory of Bob Cawley

The provisional map of the southern part of the Hood Glacier, drawn by Neville Cooper. Mt Cawley is situated in the right-hand circle (incorrectly named Mt Patrick on this map). The revised location for Mt Patrick is in the left-hand circle.

The provisional NZAC map of the southern part of the Hood Glacier, drawn by Neville Cooper. Mt Cawley is situated in the right-hand circle (incorrectly named Mt Patrick on this map). The revised location for Mt Patrick is in the left-hand circle.

by Brian McGlinchy

In 1959–60 I was part of an NZAC expedition to Antarctica, led by Robert (Bob) W Cawley. The expedition was highly successful in terms of mapping, geology and natural sciences. An article about the expedition appears in the 1960 New Zealand Alpine Journal. Bob died in 2014; his obituary can be found in the 2015 New Zealand Alpine Journal.

Our expedition team worked in the Hood Glacier area, adjacent to and west of the Beardmore Glacier. One of the challenges we faced in our surveying work was identifying the various peaks of the area, which were named by Shackleton and Scott as they travelled up the Beardmore.

Four of our party climbed a peak on the west side of the Hood Glacier. We identified that peak as Mt Patrick, and identified it as such on our provisional map, which was drawn by expedition member Neville Cooper. Subsequently, when our provisional map was compared to the official map of the area, Lands and Survey and the Geographic Board decided the Mt Patrick named by Shackleton is in fact a different peak, situated adjacent to the Beardmore and above Wedge Face. That meant that ‘our’ Mt Patrick was left unnamed. I recently had a conversation with a modern Antarctic researcher who suggested we apply to assign a name to our peak. We were assured there was no time limit.

Thus, in consultation with the remaining members of the expedition, and members of Bob’s family, a submission was made to have this peak named Mt Cawley, in honour of Bob. The New Zealand Geographic Board has now approved this name.

Mt Cawley (2,295m) was first climbed on Sunday 20 December 1959 by four members of the NZAC expedition. The party left their camp on the Hood Glacier at 7.30am and reached the summit at about 6.00pm. The climb involved a long traverse along a ridge. After surveying to determine the peak’s height and location, the party left the summit at 10.30pm and arrived back at their camp at 2.40am.

Bob Cawley was a respected mountaineer and member of NZAC for many years. Bob’s calm leadership was a major factor in the success of the ‘59–60 expedition. Those of us involved in the naming submission are pleased that Mt Cawley has now become a permanent memorial to Bob’s contribution to the mountain world.

Mt Cawley is the rocky peak, second from right. The summit party’s camp was at the foot of the rounded dome at the left, identified as ‘Beehive’ on the NZAC map.

Mt Cawley is the rocky peak, second from right. The summit party’s camp was at the foot of the rounded dome at the left, identified as ‘Beehive’ on the NZAC map.

Posted: 28/07/16

Posted By: Kester Brown