Tweet Your Expedition

Polar explorer FELICITY ASTON recently became the first woman to ski solo 1,084 miles across Antarctica, tweeting and “phonecasting” all the way

Apr 16, 2012
Outside Magazine

Examples    Photo: Courtesy of Twitter

On Equipment: I had an Iridium ‘Extreme’ satellite phone. I used a Flexcell roll-up solar panel to charge it, which wasn't hard since I had 24 hours of daylight. That’s about it, but I also had Iridium’s AccessPoint, which turns the sat phone into a hot spot. I wasn’t carrying any other kit with me, like a laptop, but I tested it at the South Pole and it worked great.

On a Dispatch Program: I started off tweeting even as I was skiing along; I had the phone on me. But after it got really cold that kind of ended. I couldn’t be faffing around in those temperatures, so it was at night in my tent, or before I got going in the morning. I was sending SMS messages, so I couldn’t see any of the replies, or retweets. When I left I had 400 followers, but when I got to the South Pole I discovered that I had 9,500 followers.

On What She Tweeted: I was saying whatever I felt like, but when I saw how many followers I had, I almost felt like I needed to be saying something different. But I was told [while at the South Pole], no, this is what people want: what I felt, what I’m seeing and hearing, what I was thinking. You should tweet the same way.

On How It Impacts a Remote Expedition: It was a huge mental boost. It made the tent feel a little less lonely, to think that all these people were out there listening.

On What’s Next: It’ll be all about education. The last time I went to the pole, I did a lecture in London from my tent in Antarctica. They were looking at photographs that I’d uploaded from the pole. With the ability to have a wi-fi hotspot, you’ll be able to Skype live from your tent. It’s possible that, a group of schoolkids in, say, Minnesota, can dial up an explorer, and ask, What is the weather like? What are you doing right now? What is that behind you? I’m looking forward to that day.