Evans Peak

Evans Peak - Named after John Evans (Viewed from high on Mt Gardner)

Evans Peak – Named after John

By remarkable circumstance, ‘John Evans’ is attached to not just one, but two Antarctic mountains. Evans Peak, pictured here, is a small but beautiful mountain below and slightly to the east of the major peaks of the Sentinel Range. At approximately 13,000 feet, it is well hidden from view from the usual west side approaches to the Sentinels.

Hidden as it is, it might have remained unnoticed had not it appeared (unnamed) in the background of a picture published by the National Geographic in its June, 1967 article about our mountaineering expedition of a few months earlier. This dramatic picture (foldout, pp 843-845) inspired Robert Rutford, Field Chief of my very first Antarctic excursion in 1963-64, to propose the name “Evans Peak” in my honor—for no reason other than the facts that it was such a striking peak and that he knew that I loved mountains. This proposal was done without my knowledge, but Dr. Rutford informed me after the fact.

Meanwhile, persons unknown who worked with me at McMurdo the following season, without my knowledge proposed my name again. The first inkling I had of this was from a letter dated March 21, 1969 on National Science Foundation letterhead, signed by T.O. Jones, Division Director Environmental Sciences, stating as follows:

Dear John:

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to inform you that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has named in your honor the geographical feature named Evans Heights, located at 75 deg 06’S. latitude, 161deg 33’E. longitude in Victoria Land, Antarctica.

Sincerely yours,
(Signed by T. O. Jones)

At the time of Dr. Jones’s letter, Evans Peak was unclimbed. Decades later (November, 1997) its summit was reached by a four-person French group, one of whom, Jean-Marc Gryzka, died a few weeks later in an accident on a nearby peak. As I understand it, the French group proposed the name “Pik Gryzka” in honor of their companion. At that time I made an informal suggestion via the National Science Foundation to have the name “Evans Heights” be changed to reflect the French proposal. In reply I was told by NSF that the naming of things didn’t work that way, and that the Evans Heights name would remain. At that time, I failed completely to either check the coordinates specified or to note the name discrepancy—Evans Peak or Evans Heights.

Not until decades later, when I checked the coordinates, did I discover that the two names were in fact “officially” accepted and legitimate, and that the name “Pik Gryzka had never gained traction.

The following excerpts from correspondence of July, 2013 shed light on the story:

Dear Mr. Evans,

If I might add that according to the SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica (CGA) (http://www.scar.org/cga) no other country has given a different name to either Evans Heights, or Evans Peak.  You can check this by entering the CGA Catalog Reference Number, 4377 for Evans Heights and 4382 for Evans Peak.  If any other name had of been applied to either feature they would be crossed referenced by the number, use reference number 13100 for an example.  Also, there are no official names in Antarctica containing the word/name “Gryzka”.  The mountaineering and hiking communities often apply their own informal names to features.

It is interesting that the geographic.org websites credits the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as the source of geographic names in Antarctica, since we maintain those here at the U.S. Geological Survey (although we do share a common website with NGA dealing with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names).





I can help here.

The official names for US use are in the on-line database at the following URL:


On the left you will find a menu that includes a link to “search” the Antarctic Names database.

Selecting that and entering your name, you’ll find many things named Evans, but Evans Peak is there.

The citation mentions that the name came from the Univ Mn geological party in the region in 63-64.

So I’m sure this is the one that Bob Rutford named for you.

Have a look for yourself.

I hope all is well with you.




From: John Evans <john.evans101@gmail.com>
Date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:21 PM

Subject: Fwd: Antarctic peak name


Many thanks for the very fast reply.

But it seems there remains a most curious duplication of my name assigned to two very different Antarctic features. Please take a look at this link:


As you will see, this takes you to a commercial site that describes “Evans Peak: Antarctica”, with “SOURCE: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Bethesda, MD, USA”.

This Evans Peak is specifically named for me, and is half a continent away from the Evans Heights, also named for me. And although I’m not really troubled by having my name attached to two quite different Antarctic features, given a choice I’d just a soon stick with only the Evans Peak—.

The story, for what it’s worth, is that my Field Chief the 1963-64 season, Mr. (now Dr.) Robert Rutford, proposed naming that peak for me simply because he knew of my love for mountains and that I would appreciate my name being tied to such a beautiful peak.

I realize you are busy, and I very much appreciate your good help with this, and apologize for what is likely a time-waster. Still, if you could please confirm that the Evans Peak name is legitimate I’d be very grateful. I’ve been saying so, but the mountaineering community has been referring to this as “Pik Gryzka”, and I’d like to have my facts straight.

Again, many thanks!


evans-peak-mapBottom line, I now apparently have the following two Antarctic peaks named for me—neither of which I have ever touched:

Evans Peak (height 12, 960’): 78° 15’South, 85° 58W
Evans Heights (height not known): 75° 06’South, 161° 33’E

Antarctica ID: 4666
Name: Evans Peak
Class: Summit
Latitude: -78.2833333
Longitude: -85.9666667
Elevation: 3950
Description: A prominent rock peak, 3,950 m, standing 3 mi ENE of Mount Ostenso in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains. Named by the University of Minnesota Geological Party to these mountains, 1963-64, for John Evans, geologist with the party.

Evans Peak

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Evans Heights

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