4. Felicity Aston

First woman to ski solo across Antarctica

Apr 9, 2012
Outside Magazine
Felicity Aston

Aston completed her solo traverse of Antarctica in January    Photo: Felicity Aston

Felicity Aston

Antarctic solo skier Felicity Aston

In January, after 59 days on the go, British adventurer Felicity Aston completed a 1,084-mile ski traverse of Antarctica, becoming the first woman to do it alone. She talks us through the challenges. 

This trip was about overcoming the mental difficulties of being alone. I’ve spent a lot of time in very remote areas by myself, but when the plane left me on the Ross Ice Shelf—the loneliest part of Antarctica, really—it hit me like a sledgehammer how far out there I was. 

Physically, it’s about keeping your body together: checking for blisters, getting sleep. Antarctica is not flat, either. Coming up the Leverett Glacier, you gain a lot of elevation quickly—to 11,550 feet. I had two sledges, one behind the other, that weighed 187 pounds. 

At one point I thought my tent might rip apart. The wind was blowing me backward on my skis, and I stupidly made camp when I should have kept going. I knew the wind would die down higher up, and it did. Four miles later there was just the slightest breeze.

Some of my best moments were also my worst. When I saw the coastal mountains—my goal—I cried. It was all very emotional. Then I panicked. It was like, Oh no! It’s over! Back in Chile, I was surrounded by the smells of life—grass, concrete—and all this color. The absence of those things is what makes Antarctica so different. 

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