First Woman to Solo Antarctica

Earlier this year, Felicity Aston became the first woman to complete a solo trans-Antarctica crossing. I think this is unbelievably cool!

Aston is known as a world-class arctic explorer, having led a team to the South Pole, raced across Arctic Canada and traversed the inland ice of Greenland. Yet this was her first solo expedition.

For 59 days, she skied across the White Continent from the Ross Sea, over the Trans-Antarctic Mountains to the Geographic South Pole, and finishing at the Hercules Ice Shelf — A total of 1700 kilometers (1,ooo+ miles)!

Physical Strength

During the entire time she pulled her gear on a sled behind her. Her tent, food, and stove weighed about 80 kg (176 lbs). A feat of incredible strength!

With temperatures below -40 C, Aston’s biggest fear was hypothermia and the onset of abnormal behavior and irrational thinking that accompanies the condition. She was also afraid of her hands freezing and so kept wiggling her fingers and toes to ensure she didn’t have frostbite.

Mental Strength

As extreme as the physical conditions were, for Aston the mental challenges were much tougher. In fact, she openly talks about the emotional ordeal. She says that the long-term solitude was the hardest to cope with, especially the feeling of being all alone in the vast open space.

She also discusses her lack of confidence and motivation, her daily bouts of crying and extreme vulnerability.

Here’s Aston very raw response as she reaches her goal:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Aston at the end

Reaction Too Real?

I applaud Aston for her honesty in recounting her struggles during her adventure and was surprised to read on the blogosphere that she was being ridiculed for her open emotions. I find her reaction a very real response to a physical and mental exhaustion.

Many comments were also questioning her achievement as the first woman soloist, contending that Aston shouldn’t receive praise for an expedition that was accomplished by men before her. Again, I was puzzled that there should be such a rabid reaction to an unbelievably courageous feat.

For more about Aston’s adventure and the online reaction, read the full CNN article. What do you think about Aston’s adventure and her very human reaction?

Like articles about amazing women? Check out these posts:

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 16th, 2012 and is filed under Social Issues.

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