In the Spotlight - Devon McDiarmid

Name: Devon McDiarmid
Role: Ski South Pole Guide
1st ALE Season: 2000
Nationality: Canada

Why did you want to work in the Antarctic?

At first it was for the adventure. I was drawn by the remoteness of Antarctica and the adventure that it holds. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like and that was very exciting. Working in the Antarctic was my ticket onto the ice and I thought that this was probably my only chance to go.

How did you start working for ALE? Have you always done deep-field work?

I started with an intro by Rachel Shephard. She may not want to take responsibility for this, but without her I can not imagine how I would have ever have been able to get my foot in the door. That first season I worked as a camp assistant. I learned ALE’s systems and was able to show the camp manager what I was capable of.

I spend most of my time ‘away from home’. I have been doing fieldwork since I was 16, looking for gold in northern Canada. I work with small crews high in the mountains The locations are often very remote and only accessible by helicopter.

What are your greatest challenges as an Expedition Guide in a deep field operation?

On a long expedition like Ski South Pole – Messner, balancing personalities and trying to give each of my teammates the experience they are looking for can  be a challenge. More obvious are the challenges that Antarctica throws at you, all the little stuff that forces you to be creative solving the problems.

What do you love best about your work with ALE?

There is something about shared challenge and adventure that builds bonds and a sense of community. I enjoy meeting and getting to know teammates from around the world. And likewise the ALE staff are a truly international crew that work amazingly well together. When I’m out on a ski expedition, I know that they have my back. I am in some of the best hands in the world for supporting the expedition.

Describe your ideal expedition…

My ideal expedition would be in the Antarctic. I would mix the expedition up with a little climbing, skiing and kiting. It would include travel to new locations, not necessarily looking to set records or firsts, but to explore.

What tips can you give anyone planning to ski to the South Pole?

Make sure your home life is in a good state and well organized so you can focus on the expedition and have the best chance to enjoy it. Taking care of the small stuff (the details) allows you to take advantage of experience.

What are your favorite three pieces of gear to take on a South Pole Expedition?
  • IPod for music and books, I love skiing in a storm and listening to cool music, it makes me feel like “ it’s all right “
  • Sleeping bag, I love sleeping, and a good sleeping bag is a small comfort
  • Warm boots, with these I don’t have to worry about cold injuries, and when I put them on in the morning, I know I’m going somewhere that day
What do you do for the rest of the year, when you are not in the Antarctic?

I do a variety of things, anything from working on the production of TV shows, to looking for gold. In my free time I mountain bike, ski, Kite ski, climb, paddle, dirt bike, whatever I can, whenever I can. I work to live and live for new experiences.

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