John Evans was a member of an historic 10-member expedition in 1966, sponsored in part by the National Geographic Society that became the first to summit the highest point in Antarctica: Mount Vinson, the 16,067-foot-tall crown of the Sentinel Range in the Ellsworth Mountains. The American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition was well documented in a feature article in the June 1967 edition of National Geographic magazine.
The 1966-67 American Antarctic Mountaineering Expedition had as its primary objective the first ascent of Antarctica’s highest peak—the 16,067-foot Mount Vinson which at the time was the only unclimbed continental high point. Other objectives included the ascents of other nearby peaks (all of which also had never been climbed) as well as a research project in geologic mapping and sampling. John Evans served as lead scientist for the geologic work as well as one of the 10 climbers.
In early December, 1966, the 10-member team, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, set off for the vast, unclimbed peaks of the remote Sentinel Range in the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica. On December 18, the highest point in Antarctica was reached: 16,067-foot Mount Vinson. Several weeks later, John Evans and the late Barry Corbet stood atop the jagged summit of Mount Tyree which, at 15,919 feet, is the second highest peak in Antarctica, but considered far more challenging than its higher neighbor.
John's long experience in Antarctica began with work as a Ph.D. candidate in geology at the University of Minnesota in the 60's. Their geologic sampling included outcrops on the lower slopes of Mount Vinson, and nearby peaks where they found fossil leaves (Glossopteris), which helped establish one of the many pre-plate tectonic ties of Antarctica to Gondwanaland.
John's mountaineering experience began in the early 60's on rock towers in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and mountain-related activities (rock, ice, and peak climbing) have since been a major focus of his life.
From 1981 to the present, John has been involved with extensive field research, often supported by National Science Foundation, in various earth, oceanographic, and biological sciences with environments including Mt. Everest, Antarctica, and the sea and sea ice around Antarctica, and he will share his insights and observations with Lindblad guests.
With Antarctic Support Associates from 1991-1999 (which held the contract with the National Science Foundation for Antarctic support), John managed the U.S. portion of Ice Station Weddell, a joint Soviet-American project entailing the deployment, support, and recovery of a drifting oceanographic research camp on sea ice in the western Weddell Sea. Among other projects, he coordinated and provided safety oversight for the Anzflux Project, a multi-component oceanographic research project involving a series of temporary drifting research stations placed on very thin and unstable sea ice in the eastern Weddell Sea in winter.
From 2000 to the present, the Antarctic support contract has been held by Raytheon Polar Services Company. During this time John has served as Coordinator of Special Science Projects. Among highlights of this period, John organized support for diving in the Deception Island caldera to collect genetic material from the bones of whales that had been processed there in the heyday of Antarctic whaling. And throughout this period, he also supported a long-term summer-only penguin study at a little facility known as “Copa” in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, plus a handful of island field camps for paleontology in the James Ross basin, plus a number of various research projects whose only common thread is that they need to work where there is no established base facility.