A 33-year-old British adventurer preparing for a historic solo crossing of Antarctica

11:20 a.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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From Mondays Yahoo news:


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A 33-year-old British adventurer preparing for a historic solo crossing of Antarctica was waiting at a base camp for the weatherto improve on Sunday in order to begin her long journey on skis.

Felicity Aston said she has been doing more than physical training to ready herself for the expedition.

"I've also been speaking to a sports psychologist about the mental aspect of it because so much of this is about where your head's at rather than your muscles and your physical fitness," Aston told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the base camp at Union Glacier.

She aims to become the first person to cross Antarctica alone using only muscle power. If she manages to complete the journey in late January as planned, she would also set a record for the longest solo polar expedition by a woman, at about 70 days.

"Unfortunately the weather hasn't been kind to us so far," Aston said.

At the base camp, she said, "it's blue sky. It's quite warm relatively for Antarctica, but unfortunately the weather on the other side of the continent isn't good enough to fly, apparently."

"So we're sitting here waiting for the weather to improve," she said.

Aston has been to Antarctica before but said she is particularly thrilled that she will be climbing solo through the Transantarctic Mountains and onto the continent's vast central plateau.

"Being out there and effectively having Antarctica to myself — or it will feel like that — appeals to me," she said. "And just the completeness of it, you know, to ski from one side of Antarctica to the other and to find out what it's like to be out there on my own."

The ordeal she faces will be similar to that endured by Boerge Ousland of Norway, who made a 64-day trip across the continent in 1997. But he harnessed Antarctica's fierce winds by strapping himself to a parachute-like sail when they blew in his favor. On those days he could ski as far as 140 miles while towing a sled carrying about 400 pounds (nearly 900 kilograms) of supplies. At other times, his speed dropped to about 2 mph (3 kph) as he struggled through crevasse-laced terrain, he said.

"It was physically and mentally tiring. I crossed snow bridges not knowing if they would hold my weight. I had to go slowly and very carefully," he said.

Aston's previous travel adventures have included skiing across the Canadian Arctic and crossing the Greenland ice sheet. But this is her first solo expedition.

"I'm looking forward to finding out what it will be like to go that length of time without seeing anyone," she said. "There's a definite appeal to just getting going and how simple life becomes when all you have to worry about is eating, sleeping and skiing."

She needed to pack the bare essentials because she will be pulling her supplies behind her. Her food rations include porridge, freeze-dried dinners and plenty of chocolate, which in all she said will add up to more than 4,000 calories each day.

"There's a lot of chocolate involved in this. It's great," she said with a laugh. "I get to eat chocolate all day and I still manage to lose weight, so that's a bonus from my point of view."


 Trans-antarctic Expedition, British adventurer Felicity Aston poses for a photo by a map in Punta Arenas,

1:31 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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She is pointing approximately at the Union Glacier camp of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (the kick-off point for my Vinson climb last year). I suspect her starting point will be Hercules Inlet, which is the usual start for ocean to South Pole and trans-Antarctic crossings. One of the comments sounds like she may be intending to go the opposite direction from the usual.

The photo in my avatar is a couple km from the base camp for Mt. Vinson on the Branscomb Glacier.

2:07 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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What are the pros and cons with going the other way ?

9:47 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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There must be some mistake in the article, 400 pounds is NOT 900 kilos, rather 180 kilos. I doubt that even Børge Ousland or anyone human alone could pull 900 kilos for any longer distances.

I wish the brave lady a good trip, hoping that she has not taken on a too large task.  

11:50 p.m. on November 21, 2011 (EST)
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400 kg x 2.2046 = nearly 900 lbs (881.84 lbs)

Maybe it was written backwards in error.

BUT can she pull 900lbs

8:25 a.m. on November 22, 2011 (EST)
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Towing 900 pounds of gear - I need a nap just thinking about that.

12:50 p.m. on November 22, 2011 (EST)
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Alan said:  I need a nap just thinking about that

Thats what a friend that climbed Denali said after pulling a gear sled up the mountain!

12:35 a.m. on November 23, 2011 (EST)
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I just checked the trip Børge Ousland did and here is some info in norwegian
I 1996 - 1997 maktet han å gjennomføre krysningen, alene og uten etterforsyninger. Starten var 15. november på Berkner Island i Weddelhavet, med målgang i Mc Murdo ved Rosshavet 17. januar. Da hadde han vært underveis i 64 dager og tilbakelagt en distanse på 2845 kilometer. Laveste temperatur underveis var minus 56 Celsius. Ved starten veide pulken 178 kilo. Høydeste punkt lå på ca 3400 meter over havet.

The highlighted section translated reads "At the start the pulka weighted 178 kilos" So I think the good lady will have about this amount to drag along. Still it is quite heavy, especially when going uphill.


10:24 p.m. on November 27, 2011 (EST)
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Just checked how the expedition is going, and Felicity has now started two days ago. She is definely a tough lady, I wish her all the best. You may follow her on the net http://www.felicityaston.co.uk/latest.html

May 25, 2018
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