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More than 20 years ago ANI made history by establishing a blue-ice runway at Patriot, now ALE has completed a four year process to assess and certify a new runway that will improve flight reliability. In the image Patriot Hills blue-ice runway where strong side winds caused many flight delays (click to enlarge)
Image by Correne Coetzer, SOURCE
[ALEs] new Union Glacier camp is located at the base of Mount Rossman, 8km from the runway. On landing, guests will be directed to a new heated passenger terminal, where they will pick up a shuttle service to the camp. In the image tiny dots of the previous camp at the foot of the Patriot Hills as seen from the Twin Otter (click to enlarge)
Image by Correne Coetzer, SOURCE
Three expeditions from Novolazarevskaya will be supported by Arctic Trucks from Iceland (click to enlarge)
courtesy Arctic Trucks, SOURCE

No more Patriot Hills: ALEs new runway and camp; and additions to the South Pole list

Posted: Nov 11, 2010 01:25 pm EST
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) who is handling the logistics for expeditions flying in from Punta Arenas, Chile, will be operating from a new blue-ice runway and re-furbished camp at Union Glacier, 70km north-west of Patriot Hills.

Also below some additions to the Antarctic expedition list.

Here goes ALES press release:

ALE opens new runway and camp

ALE is pleased to announce the inauguration of our new blue-ice runway and re-furbished camp at Union Glacier (79° 45'S 083° 14'W), 70km north-west of Patriot Hills.

More than 20 years ago Adventure Network International (ANI) made history by establishing a blue-ice runway at Patriot Hills and flying tourists into the interior of Antarctica. ALE purchased ANI in 2003 and continued to develop and improve operations in that same pioneering spirit. ALE has now completed a four year process to assess and certify a new runway that will improve flight reliability and open up new frontiers for exploration.

Union Glacier Blue-Ice Runway (SCGC) has been inspected and is a fully certified runway that can take intercontinental jets from South America. Proving flights were successfully undertaken by ALEs Ilyushin in December 2009 and January 2010. ALEs first passenger flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to SCGC will take place mid-November 2010 at the start of our 2010 Antarctic season.

After much research, ALE identified Union Glacier as a potential landing site in 2006. Two seasons of weather data was gathered and detailed surveys carried out on the blue-ice runway to determine its suitability for landing heavy aircraft, before certification by the Chilean Civil Aviation Authorities in November 2008.

ALE's new, into wind runway will allow us to offer a more predictable flight schedule; less likelihood of delays to our programs; and enhanced logistic support in Antarctica. Henceforth, intercontinental flights will operate into SCGC. Patriot Hills will remain as our secondary runway in Antarctica.

Union Glacier Camp

The camp setting is spectacular. Scenic peaks rise in all directions providing many opportunities for technical climbing, scenic hikes, and ski touring. Surprisingly for Antarctica, there is often little wind at camp, providing a comfortable environment to relax and take it all in.

Our new Union Glacier camp is located at the base of Mount Rossman, 8km from the runway. On landing, guests will be directed to a new heated passenger terminal, where they will pick up a shuttle service to the camp. Two new, specially-adapted 4x4 passenger vans will be used for passenger shuttles.

The completely refurbished base camp now offers the height of Antarctic field comforts for up to 80 guests. ALE has made a significant investment in infrastructure and at each stage of the planning process has considered how to improve environmental standards; enhance our guests experience; and improve operational efficiency.

Complimentary meal service is now provided in the Guide Complex at our Union Glacier Camp for Guide Companies, expeditions, and non-guided groups.

Union Glacier is an active glacier with a number of crevassed areas, so we have groomed and marked a snow road network around the camp and blue-ice runway, and to the main areas for guest activities. The whole area will be zoned to indicate safe and unsafe areas to work and travel.

Flight times from Union Glacier to onward program destinations will be very similar to flight times from Patriot Hills to those destinations. END

Additions to South Pole list:

Australian Polar expeditioner Eric Philips will be guiding a team of 11 Chinese on a short trip to the South Pole (2 days of skiing). They fly in from Cape Town to Novolazarevskaya on November 19 and will be staying at TAC's Oasis guesthouse near Novo. They will also do some trekking around the Schirmacher Oasis and visit an Emperor penguin rookery.

Eric says to ExplorersWeb that once he has done this trip he'll have experienced all Antarctic gateway ports:
1996-07, 2006-07, 2008-09 - Hobart, Australia - ships and plane to/from to Mawson, Davis and Casey Stations, Heard Island and Mawson's Hut
1998-99 - Christchurch NZ - plane to McMurdo
2007-08 - Punta Arenas, Chile - plane to Patriot Hills
2009-10 - Ushuaia, Argentina - sailing boat to Antarctic Peninsula
2010 - Cape Town, South Africa - plane to Novolazarevskaya

Doug Soup sent word over that he is off to the Antarctic Peninsula to climb and ski for a month with a group, and he has two has two Last Degree expeditions in the pipeline that he will be guiding.

Aron Reynisson from Arctic Trucks Expeditions Reykjavík, Iceland, informed ExplorersWeb that they have three South Pole expeditions this year.

The first expedition of this summer has already arrived on Antarctica where the Icelandic mechanic, Gísli Karel, who is responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles, has started with the preparation of the cars that has been stationed in Novolazarevskaya.

This expedition is for the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR). According to Arctic Trucks website, starting of around 10 November, four Arctic Trucks vehicles will drive to the South Pole from ALCI airbase [Novo]. All the vehicles are AT44; three are vehicles from 2008 and one new one also AT44 with a number of upgrades that Arctic Trucks made for NCAOR.

The primary object of this project is to make number of scientific research and the secondary object is to identify a location, in the vicinity of South Pole, for a fuel drop, gather the fuel drums and make the area tidy.

From Arctic Trucks there are two highly experienced drivers/mechanics Freyr Jonsson and Eyjolfur Teitsson who are already at Novo. One or two persons are participating from the ALCI airbase and 8 people from the Indian scientific station MATRI, says the website.

This project is going to be very challenging driving 4600 km back and forth with only one fuel location, the team is likely to experience temperatures well below -50°C and will make the first track this season.

The second Arctic Trucks expedition will be for the Kazakhstan National Geographic Society taking place from early December to around 20th December. This expedition will use one or two of the AT44 from 2008 and two new AT44s build for the Kazakhstan group, says the website.

Two people from Arctic Trucks are in this expedition, Gunnar Haraldsson and Hlynur Sigurðsson together with 6-8 people from Kazakhstan

The third Arctic Trucks expedition will be to assist with a ski race to the South Pole. This partial ski expedition to the Geographic South Pole will take place from mid December to 10 January. For this expedition, two new AT44 6x6 will have their maiden trip to the South Pole along with two new AT44s. Additionally two of the 2008 vehicles will be used to support and film the ski teams for the first 150km from Novo up to the high plateau where an airplane will pick them up and fly to 320 km from the South Pole where the actual races will start.

From Arctic Trucks, Gisli Jonsson and Aron Reynisson will go as driver/mechanics and Guðmundur Guðjonsson will be going as driver/paramedic.

LINKS:

Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK - website)
Chris Foot (UK - dispatches)

Hercules Inlet start
Unassisted, unsupported

Indian Army with ANI guide Devon McDiarmid
Team members: Anand Swaroop, Hem Chandra Singh, Bala Karthik, Nim Bahadur Khatri, Arjun Kumar Thapa, Ram Singh, Khilap Singh, Tsewang Morup, Parsuram Gurung, Showkat Ahmad Mir

Assisted, Unsupported

William ter Horst with ANI guide Hannah McKeand

Vinson climb and ski Last Degree

Team Latitude with Christian Eide
Adventure Consultants with Guy Cotter

Ski Last Degree

Doug Stoup and also Peninsula climb and ski
Eric Philips guiding a Chinese group
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)

Mount Vinson

International Mountain Guides (IMG) with guides Phil Ershler, Greg Vernovage and Mike Hamill.
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)

Science projects

Fuchs Foundation Antarctic Expedition 2010 (UK)
Fuchs Foundation team members: teachers Lindsay Hilton, Lisa Wood, Tim Miall and Roussel De Carvalho with BPE leaders, Carl Alvey and Carolyn Bailey.
University of Exeter - Holocene Stability of West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Centro de Estudios Cientificos
Institute Ice Stream Aerial Survey

Motorized crossing and science

The Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition with Imperial College London Union Glacier-GSP-McMurdo
Arctic Truck Expeditions:
1. NCAOR Expedition Gísli Karel, Freyr Jonsson and Eyjolfur Teitsson (Iceland) and 8 Indian scientists, Novo - Geographic South Pole Novo;
2. Kazakhstan National Geographic Society Gunnar Haraldsson and Hlynur Sigurðsson from Iceland with 6-8 people from Kazakhstan. Novo-SP-Novo
3. 2010 Ski Race Gísli Jónsson, Aron Reynisson and Guðmundur Guðjónsson from Arctic Trucks.

Other links:

CONTACT 5 expedition technology
HumanEdgeTech

Polar rules of Adventure
What is solo?
Hercules Inlet start point

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)
The Antarctic Company (TAC/ALCI)

#Mountaineering #Polar #topstory