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Our History

How we got started and what we've achieved

Climbers at Mount Vinson Antarctica 1986In 1985, there was no practical way for a private traveler to reach Antarctica except by ship. The challenges of flying into the Antarctic were formidable. Distances from South America (the closest continent) were great, weather problems daunting and fuel unavailable for private individuals.

Despite all the odds, in 1985, two Canadian mountaineers - Pat Morrow and Martyn Williams - joined with seasoned Antarctic pilot Giles Kershaw from Britain to plan and organize an ascent of Vinson Massif for a group intent on being the first to scale the "Seven Summits", the highest peak on all seven continents. Having conquered the summit, the trio realised that the strategy they had developed to reach their goal could be used to assist others and Adventure Network International was born.

Since that beginning the company has gone from strength to strength. We are now, without a doubt, the most experienced and capable private operator in the interior of Antarctica. We have carried thousands of passengers, using large aircraft operating out of Punta Arenas, Chile, to ice runways at Patriot Hills and Union Glacier. We have supported virtually every expedition that has crossed the continent on foot, by vehicle or by aircraft. We have supported major science projects and overland traverses. We continue to improve our services and logistic capability. We offer a range of Experiences that showcase the best of the icy continent and cater to every type of adventurer. And we continue our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards and to use best practices.

Our Achievements

1985-1990  The Early Years - An impressive list of firsts

ANI opened up the heart of Antarctica to expeditions and established the first inland, blue-ice airfield in Antarctica. It took vision, a lot of logistic planning, and not a little help from supporters in Chile, to make this happen.

The idea of using blue-ice areas to land conventional aircraft had been around since the early 60’s, but was unproved until ANI landed a DC-4 at Patriot Hills in 1987. This ground-breaking achievement changed the face of Antarctic aviation and allowed ANI to fly direct from Chile to Antarctica, without the need for re-fuelling stops along the way.

  • 1985 - ANI created a support and transportation system for mountaineers wishing to scale Vinson Massif
  • 1985 - ANI supported our first expedition and has supported virtually every private expedition that has ventured across the Antarctic continent since
  • Surveyed a blue-ice runway. Established airlink from Chile to the Ellsworth Mountains, West Antarctica
  • First wheeled landing of a DC4 aircraft on Patriot Hills blue-ice runway, Antarctica
  • First tourist flight to the Geographic South Pole
  • First Guided Ski Program from the Antarctic coast to the Geographic South Pole. A distance of 600nm (1000km)
  • First wheeled landing of a DC6 aircraft on Patriot Hills blue-ice runway
  • Supported the first-ever crossing of the continent on foot (International Transantarctica Expedition)
1991-2000  More pioneering achievements

ANI came of age in the 1990s. Early exploration led to a well structured company, determined to have a light touch on the Antarctic environment. We expanded our range of guided Experiences and services and continued to explore new blue-ice airfields and suitable aircraft for our operations.

  • First private flight to the majestic Emperor Penguin colony at Dawson-Lambton Glacier
  • Founder Member of IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators)
  • First private company to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment on our Antarctic operations
  • First wheeled landing of a Hercules aircraft on Patriot Hills blue-ice runway
  • First private climbing expedition to the Transantarctic Mountains
  • Surveyed a blue-ice runway in Dronning Maud Land, Eastern Antarctica, establishing an airlink between South Africa and Antarctica
  • Support for National Geographic Magazine and the North Face climbing team in Dronning Maud Land
  • Logistic support for the longest ever manhaul expedition across Antarctica (Dixie Dansercoer, Alain Hubert)
  • Conducted a reconnaissance flight for blue-ice runways in East Antarctica
2001-2005  Expanding our capabilities

A period of consolidation - ANI's logistic capabilites were expanded to give greater reach for expeditions and scientific research, and to build a more comfortable base camp for our guests.

2006-2010  A new level of service and support

The next step was to find a more efficient way to fly passengers and cargo deep into Antarctica. The search for a better runway to support intercontinental flights was on. As our own anniversary approached, we could point to the great and many achievements of the company.

  • Visit by Prince Albert II of Monaco to celebrate Monaco's accession to the Antarctic Treaty and his contribution to the 4th International Polar Year
  • Started four year project to establish new blue-ice runway at Union Glacier
  • ANI Camp moved to Union Glacier after 20 seasons of operation at Patriot Hills. New into-wind runway provides more predictable flight schedule
  • Improved facilities include comfortable guest tents, a heated multi-purpose tent for lectures and DVD presentations, and a greater range of outdoor activities
  • First guided ascent of Mount Sidley, Antarctica’s highest volcano
  • ANI's 25th anniversary!
2011 and beyond  In the spirit of Amundsen and Scott

Explorers of the Heroic Age opened up the interior of Antarctica and captured the imagination of a generation. We move forward in the spirit of these great men as we explore new frontiers, offer Experiences that celebrate their achievements, and contribute to a greater knowledge of the continent.

Join us for an exciting season in the Heart of Antarctica!

Photos from Flickr:
Giles Kershaw
Martyn Williams
Dr. Charles Swithinbank, glaciologist who surveyed Patriot Hills ice runway
Vinson climbers 1986 (middle-Reinhold Messner)
Patriot Hills blue-ice runway
Re-fuelling the DC4 at Patriot Hills blue ice runway, 1987
First Patriot Hills Camp, at the base of the hills
Patriot Hills Camp, view from above
Martyn Williams welcomes guests to Patriot Hills Camp
ANI South Pole Expedition at the Pole, Jan 1989
Navigation Before GPS
HF Radio Comms, before satellite phones
Dawson Lambton Emperors 1992
ANI Owner and Managing Director Anne Kershaw, 1992
Champagne toast at Patriot Hills Camp 1993
ANI Hercules at Patriot Hills blue ice runway
First Hercules flight to Patriot Hills Nov 1993
First Hercules passengers 1993
First Satellite Images 1995
ANI Cessna at the South Pole
Surveying ice runway in Dronning Maud Land
Liv Arnesen & Ann Bancroft TransAntarctica
National Geographic Dronning Maud Land Expedition
Offloading NSF C-130 aircraft
Overland tractor-train traverse
Patriot Hills Camp 2008
Ilyushin landing
Union Glacier Camp