The Roof at the Bottom of the World


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Discovering the Transantarctic Mountains

Edmund Stump

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A fascinating portrait and history of the most obscure mountains on Earth, by a modern scientist-explorer with unsurpassed knowledge of the region

The Transantarctic Mountains are the most remote mountain belt on Earth, an utterly pristine wilderness of ice and rock rising to majestic heights and extending for 1,500 miles. In this book, Edmund Stump is the first to show us this continental-scale mountain system in all its stunning beauty and desolation, and the first to provide a comprehensive, fully illustrated history of the region's discovery and exploration.

The author not only has conducted extensive research in the Transantarctic Mountains during his forty-year career as a geologist but has also systematically photographed the entire region. Selecting the best of the best of his more than 8,000 photographs, he presents nothing less than the first atlas of these mountains. In addition, he examines the original firsthand accounts of the heroic Antarctic explorations of James Clark Ross (who discovered the mountain range in the early 1840s), Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, and scientists participating in the International Geophysical Year (1957–1958). From these records, Stump is now able to trace the actual routes of the early explorers with unprecedented accuracy. With maps old and new, stunning photographs never before published, and tales of intrepid explorers, this book takes the armchair traveler on an expedition to the Antarctic wilderness that few have ever seen.

Edmund Stump is professor of exploration at Arizona State University. He is also a geologist, polar explorer, mountaineer, and photographer specializing in the geology of the Transantarctic Mountains. He has served as principal investigator or chief scientist on many scientific field trips to Antarctica, most recently a 2010–2011 National Science Foundation expedition to the Beardmore Glacier area. He lives in Tempe, AZ.

“The modern maps and images on which [Stump] reconstructs the passages of the early explorers are a significant and unequaled achievement, created with a passion that seems obvious looking at them.”—Guy G. Guthridge, National Science Foundation

"A superbly illustrated book on the least known mountain range in the world. Stump’s informed text combines exploration history and modern science, and the photographs bring the Antarctic landscape to life."—Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University

 "Noted geologist, Stump, leads us to the majestic mountains of Antarctic both as scientist and a writer with a passion for polar history. A noteworthy achievement."—Ross A. Virginia, Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science Director, Institute of Arctic Studies Dartmouth College Hanover NH

"Combining history and magnificent imagery, this book takes you into an icy landscape like no other on Earth. Following the footsteps of the explorers who first broke ground, it is the next best thing to being there, with none of the hardship and misery."—Ranulph Fiennes

"This book is a tour de force of Antarctic stories and photos, sweeping the reader along in a powerful journey of history, science, and the joy of discovery."—Susan Solomon, author of The Coldest March and National Medal of Science Laureate

"Stump passionately reveals the forgotten history of a far-off world, weaving into it his personal experience and rare images from a lifetime exploring and understanding the world’s last mountains."—Damien Gildea, author of Mountaineering In Antarctica: Climbing in The Frozen South

“Best, he includes very fine topographic maps, color photographs (many his own) and satellite images. And most helpful for anyone ever confused about just where and how the explorers made their way, Stump has superimposed the actual routes they took on many of the images.”—Robert Harris, New York Times Book Review

“Thanks to the stunning photographs—many by the author—this solid and dependable book is as beautiful as the mountains it describes.”—Nature

“Thanks to the stunning photographs – many by the author – this solid and dependable book is as beautiful as the mountains it describes…..Stump’s telling of these tales is competent, accurate and frequently vivid.”—Gabrielle Walker, Nature Magazine

“Nowhere will readers find a more complete history of the discovery and exploration of the Transantarctic Mountains than in this book.”—Library Journal

“The photography alone makes this an essential title"—Library Journal

“Helping to shed light on the secrets of the 1,500 mile long Transantarctic mountain chain is this lavishly illustrated book….The Roof at the Bottom of the World earns its place on any serious mountaineer’s bookshelf by virtue of the fact it is the only comprehensive history of the exploration of one of the most important yet mysterious mountain ranges in the world. At the same time, it could form a sourcebook for the next generation of Antarctic mountain explorers.”—Colin Wells, Climb Magazine

“Stump unveils a vast and unfamiliar territory whose beauty is matched only by its desolation…..Stump has produced a fine book.”—Michael Smith, Geographical

"A fabulous book for Antarctica lovers."—Rasoul Sorkhabi, Geology Today

Won an Honorable Mention for the 2011 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the Earth Sciences category
ISBN: 9780300171976
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
272 pages, 8 1/2 x 10
129 color illus. + 15 b/w illus.