Experiencing Wilderness in Northern Patagonia - United Hub

Experiencing wilderness in Northern Patagonia

By The Hub team, January 12, 2018

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By Business Processes Senior Analyst Jessica Yen

Recently, I was overcome by the desire to experience wild, remote places. With Patagonia at the top of my list, my best friend referred me to Chulengo Expeditions, founded by a friend whom she had met in business school, Nadine. Chulengo offers travels through newly protected wilderness areas in northern Patagonia -- anywhere from a six to more than 13 hour drive north of the more frequented Torres del Paine. It uses these remote parks as classrooms to discuss the future of land conservation in the 21st century. Remote and environmentally mindful? Consider me sold. This is where my four-day, three-night trek of Cerro Castillo in Chile's Aysen Region of northern Patagonia began.

Valley in Patagonia

The beginning of the expedition took me six hours south of Coyhaique, the capital city of the Aysén Region, to Parque Patagonia. Founded as a private park by Kris and Doug Tompkins, former CEOs of Patagonia and The North Face, respectively, the two have worked tirelessly to restore damaged grasslands from unsustainable sheep ranching, with the end goal of gifting the land back to the Chilean government once rehabilitated. Here, Nadine, Brooks -- who has recently joined Chulengo as a co-founder -- and I trekked the Avilés Trail, an approximately 16 km loop. We began our journey through a valley, then up a 635 m ascent to a plateau, arriving at a footbridge over Río Avilés, all the while encountering guanacos (part of the llama and alpaca family). Once across the footbridge, we continued along the plateau and back down through the valley to campgrounds. This intermediate hike served as a warm-up for our much more advanced multi-day excursion to come.

The next day, we drove three hours north on the lone, dirt road highway of the region, Carretera Austral, to Villa Cerro Castillo, the town at the base of the mountain we would soon conquer. Along the way, we stopped for a couple of day hikes -- one along the confluence of the Baker and Chacabuco Rivers, and the other along the confluence of the Baker and Neff Rivers -- and to take in the beauty of Lago General Carrera. Once in town, Nadine and Brooks reviewed the adequacy of my gear, or lack thereof, and we settled in for the evening.

United employee with hiking guides

Finally, the morning of our multi-day journey had arrived. Day 1 took us on a 15 km, mostly flat walk through yellow wildflower fields, lounging cows and scenic views foreshadowing the subsequent day's ascents. The real work began on Day 2, as we traversed up and back down the 1,676 m snowy El Peñon pass, through a valley and up another ascent to arrive at camp, a total of 10 km. We spent the first few hours of Day 3 climbing up and around Laguna Cerro Castillo, at the base of the summit, and the remainder of the day beginning the journey back down toward Villa Cerro Castillo; total distance -- 9.5 km. On Day 4, we continued the final 11 km, making our way down the mountain, stumbling upon horses and orchids alongside the Río Ibáñez and back into town.

Throughout our four-day hike, my mind drifted to the thought of bewilderment with regard to the beauty that I was seeing firsthand. With the remarkable landscape in front of us, it was easy for Nadine, Brooks and I to facilitate discussions about land ethics and what wild places mean to us individually. One subject of note, the environmental impact of aviation, hit particularly close to home. Working in the airline industry, it comes as no surprise that I, along with many, have a deep-rooted wanderlust. Our conversation gave me pause, as I thought about the carbon footprint of all my adventures. In particular, I learned about carbon offsets, which are programs that allow travelers to purchase credits to offset their estimated carbon footprint, with proceeds donated to support projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, United's CarbonChoice Offset Program offers customers the opportunity for such purchases. It was these meaningful conversations that truly paved the way for a most fulfilling experience.

Woman sitting along the edge of a mountain.

Post-trek, I have been bewildered by all that I accomplished on this trip. I have a more-than-healthy fear of heights and, coupled with this being my first multi-day, pack-bearing hike, there were more than a handful of moments of panic. Nadine and Brooks, both of whom are certified National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) instructors, never lost a stride in their steps; they taught me how to cross rivers, self-arrest and hike inclines and declines in snow, and they provided plenty of tips for hiking efficiently and effectively. With these tools, I quickly became more confident in my abilities as we progressed through the trek, and it was amazing to experience this growth alongside them. I left Cerro Castillo really taking to heart the following quote by Trevor Noah, "The highest rung of what's possible is far beyond the world you can see." I certainly bit off more than I could chew, but with a positive attitude and encouraging leaders, I accomplished far beyond what I could have imagined.

Now that I'm back home, I am forever grateful to this trip for a truly transformative experience, for teaching me invaluable outdoor skills and fostering conversations that inspire me to ground a respectful relationship with the rest of Earth.

United's regional presidents join respective Governor's COVID-19 task force

By Ryan Wilks, May 21, 2020

As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.

A message from Scott Kirby, United’s new CEO

By The Hub team, May 20, 2020


Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.

While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.

First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.

As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.

Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.

We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.

But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.

Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.

Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.

While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.

Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.

Making every step of the travel journey safer for you

By United Airlines, April 22, 2020
United Clean Plus | Clorox

We remain passionate about connecting the world safely

United CleanPlus SM is our commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. We're teaming up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures, and over the coming months, we'll roll out Clorox products across our U.S. airports, starting in select locations, to help support a healthy and safe environment throughout your travel experience.

At the airport

  • At check-in:

  • 1
    Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
  • 2
    Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3
    Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
  • 4
    Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 5
    Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
  • At the gate:

  • 6
    Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
  • 7
    Providing hand sanitizer and
    disinfectant wipes
  • 8
    Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 9
    Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing

On our aircraft

  • 1
    Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2
    Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 3
    Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
  • 4
    Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5
    Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6
    Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7
    Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
    • Limiting middle seat selection
    • Moving customers seated closely together
    • De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
  • 9
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles

Cleveland Clinic We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.

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