In the Spotlight - Simon Abrahams
IFMGA guide, Simon Abrahams, brings a wealth of Antarctic and mountaineering experience to his role as an ANI Mountain Guide and Travel Safety Manager. He first traveled to Antarctica more than 20 years ago and is as at home on the peaks of Chamonix, as he is bagging first ascents in Antartica's Ellsworth Mountains.
Role: Mountain Guide and Travel Safety Manager
Number of Seasons with ANI: 4
Previous Experience: 25+ years as a mountain guide
Why did you want to work in the Antarctic? What was the attraction?
I first started working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - I had already decided that I wanted to be a professional Mountain Guide and working in Antarctica gave me a great opportunity to gain experience of working in glaciated mountain terrain. Also, I had friends and colleagues who had worked for BAS and the adventure of working in such a remote environment really appealed to me. That was in 1992 and just to get to Antarctica was not as ‘easy’ as ALE makes it look now. Back then, I went by boat from the UK and we also had to do a ferry flight using ‘Twin Otter’ aircraft from an island on the peninsula to the research station - there were still dogs there in 1992 - so it was an amazing experience and one that I wanted to repeat, so I took a longer contract 1996 - 1998 and worked an Antarctic winter.
How and when did you start working for ANI? How did your previous experience prepare you for Antarctic guiding?
My first season with ANI was only recently in 2010 - but I had continued to work in Antarctica in the meantime on some great film projects like the IMAX ‘Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure’. The combination of my previous experience with BAS and working full time as a Mountain Guide was a great preparation for working with ANI.
What are your greatest challenges as a guide in Antarctica?
Keeping our guests comfortable and minimizing the hazards of working in such a remote and hostile environment, so they can focus on enjoying their experience. Oh yes, and trying not to put on too much weight with the fantastic food that is prepared daily :-)
What do you love best about your work with ANI?
Working with a great team of motivated people with a ‘can do’ attitude. Meeting our guests with such diverse backgrounds and hearing about what brings them to Antarctica.
Describe your ideal guided ski/climb…
I don’t have an ideal as such - it’s more about the journey. Over the years, I’ve found out about myself that I love being in remote and wild places - sharing an experience with others - that’s why I love guiding and that’s why I love Antarctica.
If you could give ANI guests one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take every opportunity to immerse yourself in what is around you - I’ve been very fortunate to have the chance to return to Antarctica many times - it may be your only visit to this remarkable place - cherish every second you have whilst you are there.
What do you do for the rest of the year, when you are not in the Antarctic?
I work as an IFMGA Internationally qualified Mountain Guide, living and working in and around Chamonix in the French Alps, but most of all I try and enjoy as much time with my wife and kids as possible as they can’t come to Antarctica with me - but you never know - one day...