In Memory of Alejo Contreras

Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) is deeply saddened at the passing of Alejo Contreras, a prominent Antarctic expeditioner who was integral to the establishment and early operations of Adventure Network International (ANI), which later became ALE.

Alejo dreamed of going to Antarctica since he was a child, a story he tells in his TedTalk regarding his experience traversing to the South Pole. Despite the seemingly impossible political and logistical challenges that faced Alejo, he never gave up trying to make his dream a reality.

Alejo C. aboard ship placing fuel caches around Antarctica’s coastline.

In 1985 Alejo became the first South American to climb Mount Vinson, the highest summit of Antarctica. Alejo would return to Antarctica numerous times throughout his life, achieving another first in 1989 as the first Chilean to reach the South Pole.

Sue Staniland, Punta Arenas Operations Manager at ALE, recounts her first seasons working with Alejo: “He was super interesting and never slept in a tent. Instead he used to dig snow trenches to sleep in, above which he erected the Chilean flag.”

Alejo’s love for Antarctica coupled with his eccentric personality led to adventures off the ice as well.

Dressed in a full penguin costume, Alejo once walked through the streets of Punta Arenas. Another on-ice adventure included him trailing behind a van, trying to  ‘pretend ski’ the whole way down the bumpy road.

For the last 20 years, Alejo has worked with La Línea Aérea de la Patagonia y Antártica (DAP) a regional airline company.

“We are deeply sorry for this loss. Alejo was a symbol of DAP in our operations in Antarctica and an inspiration to many people. We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and co-workers. He will be greatly missed,” said Alex Pivcevic, President of the DAP Group.

ALE’s heart goes out to Alejo’s family at this trying time.

Alejo, nosotros te recordaremos.

Giles Kershaw and Alejo Contreras examine a centolla, Punta Arenas Chile.

Alejo C. and Nick (?) hold an ‘Escuela de Montaña’ banner, on the summit of Mount Vinson.

First guided Ski South Pole expedition, at the Ceremonial South Pole. January 17, 1989. L-R J.K. B. (India), Martyn W. (expedition leader, Canada), Stuart H. (snowmobile driver, Canada), Mike S. (UK, snowmobile driver), Jerry C.(USA), Jim W. (assistant leader, USA), Tori M. (USA), Shirley M. (USA), Ron M. (USA), Alejo C. (Chile), and Joe M. (USA).

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