British woman completes solo traverse of Antarctica

British adventurer Felicity Aston completed her solo traverse of Antarctica yesterday, becoming the first person to accomplish that feat completely alone and under her own power. The journey took 59 days, and covered more than 1084 miles across the frozen continent.

We first told you about Felicity’s adventure back in November when she was still preparing to start the expedition, which began on the Ross Ice Shelf. Traveling on skis, and pulling a heavy sled filled with gear and supplies behind her, Aston first made her way across the Leverett Glacier and Transantarctic Mountain Range, arriving at the South Pole just a few days before Christmas. That stage of the journey covered 248 miles, and while 90ºS is traditionally the finish line for most polar explorers, for Felicity it wasn’t even the halfway point yet.

Over the course of the next few weeks, she battled a combination of high winds, bitterly cold temperatures, and blowing snow to make her way back to the coast. That leg of the journey covered another 835 miles, culminating with her arrival at Hercules Inlet yesterday. She spent one last night in Antarctica at that location before catching a ride aboard a transport plane headed back to Punta Arenas, Chile today.

Spending two months completely alone in the Antarctic, while struggling against the very harsh elements there, requires a lot of physical and mental strength. Aston has accomplished an amazing feat with this crossing of the continent and I salute her courage and sense of adventure.

[Photo credit: Associated Press]

British woman attempting solo crossing of Antarctica

33-year old British adventurer Felicity Aston is preparing to set out on an epic journey that is guaranteed to push her to both her physical and mental limits. In just a few days, she’ll set out to do what no other woman has ever done – complete a solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica on foot.

Felicity’s adventure will begin on the Ross Ice Shelf, where she’ll start a 248 mile trek on skis to the South Pole. For most Antarctic explorers, that would be the stopping point of their expedition, but for Felicity, it won’t even be the halfway mark. Once she reaches 90º South, she’ll start the second phase of her journey – a 683 mile trudge back to the coast, ending at Hercules Inlet. The entire expedition is expected to take roughly 70 days to complete, covering more than 930 miles in the process. During that time, Aston will be completely alone, with little contact from the outside world.

Traveling across Antarctica is no easy task. Felicity will be forced to contend with harsh weather conditions, including extreme cold, high winds, blizzards, and whiteout conditions. Since she’ll also be alone, and not receiving any kind of outside support, she’ll also be dragging a heavy sled behind her at all times. That sled will contain all of her gear, food, and other supplies that will be necessary for her survival while out on the ice for more than two months.

At the moment, Felicity is actually in Antarctica at a base camp located at Union Glacier. She’s waiting for a flight to take her, along with her gear, to her starting point out on the Ross Ice Shelf. She had hoped to be well underway by now, but bad weather and mechanical problems with the aircraft have caused numerous delays to the start of the expedition, but if all goes well, she hopes to get finally hit the trail tomorrow.

Spending 70 days alone, in one of the harshest environments on the planet, takes an incredible amount of strength, both physically and mentally. The next two months will not be easy ones for Aston, but she is about to embark on amazing adventure unlike any other.

Best of luck Felicity!

[Photo credit: Felicity Aston]