Antarctica 2010: No More Patriot Hills

Yesterday I posted a story about the impending Antarctic season, which should officially get underway tomorrow, weather permitting, when explorers and their teams start to get shuttled to the frozen continent to being their expeditions. I mentioned that they would be setting up shop at Patriot Hills, which is one of the more common destinations for those heading to the South Pole or Mt. Vinson. Turns out, Patriot Hills doesn’t exist any more, and a new base of operations is in use.

According to this story from ExWeb, Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, or ALE, the company in charge of getting all those polar explorers on to the ice, has created a new blue ice runway and base camp at Union Glacier, located roughly 70km (43 miles) northwest of Patriot Hills. The new runway was tested back in December of last year, and again in January of this year, and seems ready to begin receiving jets from Punta Arenas any day now. Patriot Hills will still be an option as a secondary base it seems, so you may still see a few teams heading out from that location, although it looks like Union Glacier is the new starting point for most.

The new camp now sits at the foot of Mt. Rossman, about 8km from the runway, and visitors will now take a shuttle to the camp after entering a heated terminal. The new location offers better access for ski touring, climbing, and other activities in the area, which leads me to believe it’ll open up Antarctica for more adventure travelers in the near future.

Meanwhile, ExWeb also added a couple of names to follow as they make the journey to the South Pole, including a couple of last degree ski expeditions and a month long climbing and skiing trip along the Antarctic Peninsula being undertaken by Doug Stoup.

Seems like a lot of activity at the bottom of the world this year, even if there aren’t as many solo skiers at this point.