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]

Polar explorers complete first unassisted traverse of Antarctica

Late last week, American Ryan Waters and Norwegian Cecilie Skog became the first team to make an unsupported/unassisted traverse of the Antarctic continent, covering more than 840 miles beginning at Berkner Island and ending at the Ross Ice Shelf, with a stop at the South Pole along the way.

The pair set off on their journey back on November 13 of last year and reached their final destination 70 days later on January 21. Over the course of those many days out on the ice, they frequently had to deal with high winds, whiteout conditions, and bitter cold, sometimes dropping as low as -40º F. As if dealing with the weather wasn’t challenging enough, they also had to endure the altitude (Antarctica is the highest continent on Earth) and massive sastrugi, hard waves of drifting snow that form on top of the ice.

Ryan and Cecilie made the journey on skies, while dragging all of their supplies and gear behind them in specially designed sleds. In order for this expedition to be classified as “unsupported” they had to make the journey without ever receiving a supply drop along the way, and to earn the distinction as “unassisted”, they had to finish the trip completely under their own power. Previous traverses of Antarctic were done through the use of dog sled teams or by using massive kites to pull the explorers across the snow.

The duo spent about a day and a half at their final destination along the Ross Ice Shelf before being picked up by a specially designed aircraft. They’ve now returned to Punta Arenas, Chile where they are enjoying fine food and warm beds for the first time in two months.%Gallery-79934%