Tractor Girl Completes 5-Year Journey to the South Pole

Dutch woman rides from Holland to Antarctica

Dec 16, 2014
Outside Magazine
Manon Osservoort Tractor Girl antarctica south pole AGCO tractor Massey Ferguson

Osservoort spent 17 days and 2,500 kilometers in her quest to the South Pole.    Simon Foster/AGCO

A 38-year-old Dutch actress completed her journey to the South Pole on December 9 after more than two weeks battling the polar elements. She did it in a tractor.

“After 17 days and 2,500 kilometers, we are at a red and white striped pole with a reflective ball on top, surrounded by flags,” Manon Osservoort said in a press release. “This is South 90—as far south as anybody can go. It’s unbelievable.”

Osservoort began her journey in Holland in 2005, according to AutoBlog, traversing Europe and Africa over the course of four years, covering some 23,600 miles. Literally missing the boat from South Africa to Antarctica in 2012, she returned home. It was only after tractor manufacturer Massey Ferguson agreed to sponsor the endeavor in February 2013 that Osservoort was able to resume her mission this November.

The 3,100-mile round trip from Antarctica’s coast to the South Pole hearkens back to Sir Edmund Hillary, who led the first mechanized expedition to the bottom of the world in 1958. For that journey, Hillary was also outfitted with Ferguson tractors.

Osservoort, leading a team of five, endured 23-hour driving stints, battling crevasse fields, steep climbs, deep snow, meter-high sastrugi (solid ice waves), and temperatures as low as minus-69 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill. The group missed its original goal of December 7 but remained in high spirits.

“To have dreams is beautiful but to see them realized is the most extraordinary feeling,” Osservoort said in the release. “I’m inspired.”

Reaching the South Pole is only a partial victory: Osservoort and her team are now retracing their tracks back to the coast. According to the release, they hope to conclude their journey before Christmas.