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New blue-ice runway opens in Antarctica

3rd November 2010 Print
Blue-ice runway in Antarctica

Land-based Antarctic specialist, Adventure Network International (ANI), are pleased to announce the opening of a new blue-ice runway and completely refurbished camp at Union Glacier (79° 45'S 083° 14'W), only 1100kms from the South Pole.

More than 20 years ago, ANI made history by establishing a blue-ice runway at Patriot Hills (70 kms north-west of the new location at Union Glacier) and flying tourists deep into the interior of Antarctica. Now, in that same pioneering spirit, they have 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. Trial flights were successfully undertaken by ANI's Ilyushin in December 2009 and January 2010. ANI's first passenger flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to SCGC on their 80-passenger Ilyushin jet will take place mid-November 2010 at the start of ANI's Antarctic season.

After much research, ANI 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 Authority in November 2008.

ANI's new into wind runway will allow them to offer a more predictable flight schedule with less likelihood of delays to their South Pole, Adventure Ski, Emperor Penguin, Mount Vinson and other adventurous land-based Antarctic programs. Henceforth, intercontinental flights will operate into SCGC. Patriot Hills will remain as ANI's secondary runway in Antarctica.

David Rootes, one of the owners of Adventure Network International, said "This is the most exciting new development we have had in many years. The new runway at Union Glacier opens up the opportunity to develop new experiental adventure travel products in Antarctica. The move has also given us the chance to re-think our camp infrastructure to give the best guest experience but, at the same time, improve our environmental standards."

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 the camp, providing a comfortable environment to relax and take it all in.

Union Glacier camp is located 8km from the runway at the base of Mount Rossman. 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. ANI has made a significant investment in infrastructure and at each stage of the planning process has considered how to improve environmental standards; enhance their guests' experience and increase operational efficiency.

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

Who is Adventure Network (ANI)
Adventure Network International (ANI) is the first company to offer airborne travel to Antarctica. To date they remain the only company in the world operating an expedition-style camp and full support service deep in the Antarctic interior.

From South Pole flights and extraordinary ski touring programs to photo safaris with the magnificent emperor penguins and climbing Vinson Massif - a coveted seventh summit, ANI offers a range of incomparable guided experiences for the modern day explorer. ANI also supports private Antarctic expeditions.

Guests fly by private charter jet from Punta Arenas, Chile to ANI's expedition base camp, only 1100 km from the South Pole. The ANI base camp accommodates up to 80 guests in a comfortable expedition-style camp - specially designed and tested for safety in extreme polar conditions.

ANI operates their trips throughout November, December and January.

ANI works hard to bring about as small an impact on the Antarctic environment as possible. All ANI's activities are regulated and authorized by the US government.

For more information, visit:

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Blue-ice runway in Antarctica