If you’ve been reading The Adventure Blog for awhile now, you’ve probable seen me reference ALE a time or two in the past. ALE stands for Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions and is the company that is responsible for getting most of the Antarctic skiers and climbers safely to and from the frozen continent each year. The organization maintains a camp at Union Glacier, which serves as base camp for numerous South Pole skiers, climbers heading to Mt. Vinson, and other adventurers heading out to explore the region. The ALE staff also supports those individuals as needed throughout their stay in the Antarctic. It is a tremendous operation that requires managing a lot of moving parts for about three months each year, and the busiest part of the ALE schedule is about to get underway.
Today, the first flight to Union Glacier is scheduled to take place, carrying staff and supplies to the camp. If other years are any indication, there may be one or two explorers on that first flight two, as those with a particularly long journey — say a polar traverse — may try to get a jump on things as early as possible. But the first flight actually carrying clients is set to arrive on November 10, which will be when the season truly gets started.
Just in time for the kick off of the Antarctic expedition season, the team over at Explorers Web have put together an interesting profile of ALE. The article delves into the origins of the company, which are traced back on 1985 when a Canadian mountaineer by the name of Pat Morrow was working on completing the Seven Summits — something that was only starting to be a thing back then — and he needed to find a way to get to Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. After he completed that expedition, Morrow and some partners thought that perhaps others could use their logistical help in reaching the Antarctic as well. From that germ of an idea, ALE’s processor — Adventure Network International — was born.
A lot has changed since then and ALE’s operations on the white continent have gotten much more streamlined, sophisticated, and far reaching. Now, the company assists about 400-500 skiers and mountaineers each season, which roughly runs from November 1 to January 31, just as the austral summer is ramping up. In order to do that the company employs roughly 120 people who do everything from cook meals and maintain the Union Glacier camp to maintain communications and fly aircraft. It is quite an operation that has made visiting and traveling in Antarctica a much more approachable option.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to support the adventurers heading to the South Pole each season or getting climbers two and from one of the coldest and most remote mountains on the planet, you’ll want to check this article out. It’s definitely an interesting one from a logistical standpoint. Check it out here.
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