I Want That Job! - Brendan Kendell - Desert Explorerby Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Mar/2008
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In this new article series I Want That Job! I'll be interviewing people from various professions within the climbing world. If you think your job is a dream come true (it has to be climbing related) and if you're willing to be interviewed - then drop me a line. Likewise if you can think of a job that you'd like to have - suggest it in the forums and I'll try and track someone down.
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© Brendan Kendell, Mar 2008
Name: Brendan Kendell
Job Title: Exploration Support Mountaineer
We have a blend of guys on board, from various backgrounds, including; industrial rope access, guiding, instructing, remote first aid and military backgrounds. I'm a qualified rope access trainer and I have quite a bit of developing world experience.
Generally dependant on experience and determined on project-by-project nature.
Perks and holidays/time off:
The work is generally on a project by project basis and that gives us a lot of flexibility. The long stints of time off are attractive to the majority of the guys.
Describe your job:
In essence the job is offering mountaineering based safety support for geophysical exploration companies in remote and mountainous terrain globally. Depending on the project, the role includes compilation of terrain assessment reports, developing mountain travel (including helicopter) logistics, medi-vac and rescue responses, implementing mountain awareness training programs for local labour crews, guiding various client personnel through terrain and installation of seismic equipment in mountainous areas.
What does that mean?!
We supervise people in remote desert mountain ranges. We get to use 4x4's and helicopters a lot...
How did you get this job? How long did it take? Any hardships? Did you always want it or did it just happen?
I guess I more or less happened on the job... I first heard of projects whilst living in South Africa. I had an extensive industrial rope access, allied medical and climbing background and the offer of project based work in remote and obscure parts of the globe appealed instantly. A meeting in the UK with Exploration Logistics followed shortly after and before too long I joined an ongoing project in northern Oman.
What attracted you to the job in the first place?
The opportunity to work in remote and demanding environments globally with some fantastic people was a definite appeal from the beginning. An insatiable desire to travel and develop a realistic knowledge of various cultures pushed the opportunity into reality.
How long have you been in the job now? How long do you see yourself continuing?
I've been involved with Exploration Logistics for about 4 years now and have had the opportunity to work extensively in Yemen, Oman and Egypt particularly. This has always complimented other work that I'm involved in very well. As long as I can maintain this complimentary relationship I'd hope I could continue for a few more years yet.
Describe your average day at work?
Generally the work is quite varied; in general terms we will wake up sometime between 5 and 6, prepare to leave camp and organise relevant equipment according to a plan finalised the previous day. We may split into teams for a combination of reconnaissance/survey tasks, equipment installation, guiding of personnel, coordination of blasting operations, training of crew etc and then head off into the 'prospect' (generally desert) navigating by a combination of satellite images and GPS, either by four wheel drive or helicopter. Lunch will be out in the field, often shared with the crew we are working with at the time. We'd generally return to base camp sometime in the late afternoon to collate any recce info we've gathered, coordinate logistics for the following day and to liaise with the client on general operations.
© Brendan Kendell, Mar 2008
Is it how you/other people imagine it to be?
Many of the aspects of the job were as I imagined they would be. I suppose the job can sound slightly exotic and wild in a romantic sense and it definitely has elements of great adventure tied in with it, however the role can be quite gruelling at times, especially mid summer... The reality slap at having weeks of getting up before sunrise and the prospect of hundreds of hours of brutal desert commuting can wear a little thin at times. But again, like any job there is always a blend of great and dismal aspects to contend with.
Where do you stay at night?
We make a base camp close to the mountain prospect we are exploring. The camp usually consists of long trailers - a kitchen trailer, bedroom trailers, toilets. Things like that. The food is prepared in base camp and the Geophysical data in processed there in office trailers. It's like a mini village.
How long are you in the desert for?
We usually stay on camp for between 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the job. 6 weeks is an average trip.
Have you had a best day?
Whilst hard to nominate a single best day, some of the best days would include working closely with local crews, traversing quite severe remote topography, successfully coordinating helicopter re-supplies to reach an end of day goal together and to realise that your guidance was integral for everyone finishing the day unscathed.
Why is it great being a Desert Mountaineer, and why is it rubbish?
The opportunity to visit such wild places rarely seen by anyone and interact with the population in such a raw environment is a definite buzz that will always remain... Developing self-reliance in such remote areas is definitely fulfilling. The notion of spending a significant amount of time away from family and friends, sometimes in areas with minimal outside communication has it downsides.
Do you 'love' your job?
I definitely love aspects of it. Being part of a team and developing self-reliance in a remote and challenging area can be quite satisfying.
Any tips and advice on how to get to where you've got to?
Be persistent and broad minded. Learn to develop a taste for obscure chicken and rice based meal variations and to appreciate the lighter side of sandstorms! Practice in adapting to long brutal four wheel drive journeys through the odd desert abyss is a little hard to come by.
Any friends through work?
Absolutely... I've met some of perhaps the most capable and motivated people I know through work with Exploration Logistics. Generally the hardest thing is keeping up to date of where they are as they always seem to be on various adventures in obscure parts of the planet.
Any amazing stories?
During any of the projects I've been involved with there's inevitably been at least one example of a situation that has been quite amazing or profound on reflection... Random encounters with Bedouin tribesmen in remote Yemen wadis, invitations to meals in obscure villages, fantastic helicopter flights...
And finally - What's your dream job? Why?
Foreign correspondent cameraman perhaps? I guess being employed to bring the reality and complexity of the world to a broader audience that may never have the opportunity to visit other countries would be fantastically satisfying. Failing that I guess a barista in a suave café somewhere on the coast of Guatemala would be nice...
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Visit the Exlogs Website
Mountaineers are used to support our client's seismic operations by providing mountain safety, operational and supervisory support to their local crews. We are looking for experience in remote mountains and of loose rock, snow and ice with a high level of physical fitness and instructional experience.
If you are interested in these positions, please Forward your CV and we will send out a form for you to complete to take your application further.
More Info on the Links Below:
- What role do mountaineers have?
- How are the mountaineer teams organised?
- What kind of experience are we looking for?
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