Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern
Could you ever imagine skiing across Antarctica? How about skiing across Antarctica alone?
Felicity Aston, a 33-year old explorer from Great Britain, did just that last month, and now holds the title as the first women in history to cross the continent. She is also now the world record holder for the longest solo journey ever made by a woman! Talk about girl-power.
Aston began skiing during her first trip to Antarctica when she was 23, and has enjoyed the sport ever since. For the past 10 years, Aston has taken expeditions all over the world and in 2006 she started to lead these expeditions. After training a group of women for their first trip to the South Pole, she decided to make the trek by herself.
Why did you want to do this alone?
I did it alone because I think I was curious to see if I could. When I hear about an expedition, my question is always, “Would I behave in that way?” and I was curious to find out if I could.
How did you train?
It was all about endurance and stamina. I did a lot of high-intensity walks while pulling tires with a harness along the beach. The sand is very similar to snow. The training isn’t something I enjoy, but it was a means to an end. I need to do this or else I would not be able to do that.
What did you take with you?
It had to be very lightweight, because I was pulling absolutely everything. I started out with two sleds that weighed almost 190 pounds—that’s like a full-grown man! I didn’t have as much clothing as you would think.
To hear about Aston’s 5,000-calorie diet and how she dealt with fear, click below.
Wow, that’s quite a physical challenge! How did you stay fueled for all of the activity?
I was eating about 5,000 calories a day, 120 grams of protein, and 200 grams of fat each day. Breakfast was porridge, milk, sugar and coffee. I couldn’t stop to eat properly, so I always had a bag of chocolate, nuts, gummies and peanut butter cups nearby. Dinner was ramen noodles, hot chocolate with protein powder and more chocolate.
Were the physical or the mental barriers more challenging during this journey?
It definitely was the mental part. To deal, sometimes it was just about bursting into tears and getting it all out. Or just getting cozy and listening to some music because I had an MP3 player. But it’s all about listening to the right music, because some of it can really bring you down!
Were you ever scared?
There was a certain level of fear all the time. There was never a point I wasn’t scared because you have to be. Take the cold, for example. I’m not scared of it but I was respectful. I would check all the time if I could feel my limbs. If they are hurting, that’s great!
Do you want to do another solo trip?
No! Emotionally it was very tough but I try to hold onto the bad memories. The brain is not good at clearing out the bad bits. The bad memories are sort of the best because it’s where you learn the most.
Are you done exploring now that you can check this off your bucket list?
I’m not hanging up skis. It’s a way of life. There will be other journeys and adventures, that’s for sure!