British Woman on Solo Antarctica Crossing

November 30, 2011 by  
Filed under features

Felicity Aston of Britain began her attempt to cross Antarctica on her own on Friday, 25 November 2011. The 33-year-old expeditionist has been preparing to make the journey of over 1,000 miles for several years, beginning the solo adventure at the Ross Ice Shelf. Carrying just the absolute essentials, Aston is aiming to be the first person to ski across the continent alone, using nothing but muscle power.

Aston’s adventurous spirit extends all the way back to her youth, when at the age of nine she climbed Helvellyn in the English Lake District after being bribed with sweets. Since then she has gained a lot of experience in various expeditions. Felicity Aston was a meteorologist for the British Antarctic Survey for some three years. She has also skied the Canadian Arctic, traversed the Greenland ice sheet, trekked over frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, run through the Sahara Desert in Morocco and other adventures. In 2009 Aston led a group of women to the South Pole. She was quoted as saying that each trip has taught her something and that only now, after ten years, does she feel capable of this feat.

Kaspersky Lab, a software company in Russia, is sponsoring Aston’s undertaking. They have also supplied the equipment that Aston is using. The intrepid skier is pulling a sledge with about 85 kg of equipment and essentials. Amongst her gear are a solar recharger, freeze-dried food, camp stove, fuel and two MP3 players – one containing music and the other audio books on British history. She is also carrying a GPS beacon and two Iridium phones to keep contact with her support team. According to the Antarctic Treaty, private support teams are required should people end up in trouble.

Aston is heading for the South Pole, where she will briefly stop to stock up on supplies. To get there she is climbing through the Transantarctic Mountains to the central plateau. Here she will face severe headwinds for over 500 km. From there she will head to a base camp at Hercules Inlet, which is on the Ronne Ice Shelf.

Should Felicity Aston manage to complete her expedition she will also set the record for taking on the longest solo polar expedition by a woman. As she herself stated, it is about stamina and endurance, keeping going.