Kiwi beaten in Antarctic ridge race

KIWI CLIMBER: Mountaineer Lydia Bradey, at Everest Basecamp in 2008.
KIWI CLIMBER: Mountaineer Lydia Bradey, at Everest Basecamp in 2008.

A New Zealand mountaineering expedition on the Antarctic Peninsula has been beaten in the race to be first to scale one of the biggest ridges in the region by a group of French climbers.

Lydia Bradey, of Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, her partner Dean Staples, a Mt Everest guide, and ski patroller Penny Goddard - who has dual NZ and British citizenship - were trying to make the first ascent of the West Ridge of Mt Parry, at Brabant Island.

The New Zealanders sailed from Ushuaia, Argentina on February 13, and are due back there on Monday.

The British Mountaineering Council said today Bradey - the first woman to climb Everest without oxygen - organised the NZ expedition with help from the Mt Everest Foundation, "However, the French beat them to the peak".

The Frenchmen, Mathieu Cortial, Lionel Daudet and Patrick Wagnon, hired yachtswoman Isabelle Autissier to drop them at the foot of Mt Parry's northwest ridge, which rises 2520m straight out of the ocean.

Parry was first climbed in 1984 by a British Joint Services Expedition led by Chris Furze, which climbed from the east via relatively gentle slopes.

Bradey, whose 1988 solo ascent of Everest made her the only New Zealander to have climbed the mountain without oxygen, returned to guiding in New Zealand last November, after knee surgery forced a 30 month break.