Mountaineering :: Trekking :: Ski touring


This was my 12th season working in Antarctica and my 10th working for ALE. I was ‘on contract’ for 89 days and spent 72 of these in Antarctica (56 at Mt Vinson). I was VBC manager during V1 and V5 and climbed Mt Vinson guiding ALE clients during V3 and V4. These were my 20th and 21st ascents of the peak.

In mid December I was based at Union Glacier for 2 weeks. In this time I assisted a group of guests from Japan who made a number of short excursions close to UG camp and flew to the South Pole. I also worked with a writer and photographer who intended to produce a number of features on the ALE operation in Antarctica.

The weather in Antarctica was more unsettled than in previous years and this presented a number of challenges throughout the season. Several groups of climbers were delayed getting in and out of Antarctica and also between Union Glacier and Vinson Base Camp. However all the climbers travelling with ALE reached the summit of Mt Vinson, as did the majority of climbers with other guide companies.

Despite a lot more fresh snow than normal opportunities for skiing in the Vinson area were fewer than in previous years. The snow pack was considered unstable and dangerous in the first part of the season, and pressures of work and disrupted travel schedules ate up much of the later season. I managed to make one ski outing from VBC that I had not done previously. Together with an ALE guide colleague we made a circular tour via the Boyce Col skyway to Schatz Pyramid, Sam’s Col and Vinson C1 before returning to VBC: a 29.3km route with 1450m of ascent/descent completed in 10hrs 35mins.

The ALE operation continues to grow in scale and complexity. Most of the major changes are at Union Glacier Camp, but Vinson Base Camp was equipped with a new heater this season and the facilities tent (office / kitchen / dining area) was extended in length from 32’ to 48’.

David Hamilton 29/02/2016


David Hamilton
High Adventure
67 Castle Road
CV10 0SG


Telephone:    From UK    02476 395422
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