Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole; Eight Women, One Unique Expedition
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Could YOU ski to the South Pole?
That was the challenge that British adventurer Felicity Aston put to women from around the Commonwealth, as she set out to create the most international all-female expedition ever to the Pole. The team would not be experienced explorers but 'ordinary' women who wanted to inspire others to follow their dreams or make a change for the better in their lives. She received more than 800 applications.
'What is skiing?' asked someone in Ghana.
At the close of 2009, Felicity led a team from places as diverse as Jamaica, India, Singapore and Cyprus – some of whom had never even seen snow or spent the night in a tent before joining the expedition – on one of the toughest journeys on the planet.
still had their arms around each other and their faces were a mixture of smiles and tears. Sean gently shepherded us away from the pole to a base camp some 50 metres away where he had already set up a mess tent. We crowded inside, perched on small stools forming a horseshoe around Sean as he produced mugs of hot tea and soup as well as dense chocolate brownies. We gratefully hoovered up the goodies and I munched as I listened to the team relate tales from our journey like seasoned professional
drum up applications. I could return later, or try a completely different country. But I wasn’t ready to give up on Ghana just yet. After breakfast, I packed my laptop, phone and notebooks and walked to the British Council in the centre of Accra. After a short wait in a spotless reception, I was shown into a large office to meet Diana, the corporate communications manager, and Juliet, the business director. Both women were incredibly elegant and Diana, in particular, was so perfectly turned out,
had arrived, and a constant stream of local media, from TV crews to radio cars with extendable masts, came and went. My good friend Guy arrived to give us some last-minute first aid training. He showed the team how to look after a blister and ensure it didn’t get infected; how to strap up a sprain with gaffer tape; how to look after a broken bone; and how to stop major bleeding. Going through all the drugs in our first aid kits he asked each of us if we had any allergies. Sophia thought that she
the Commonwealth. It was a list, and a task, capable of deflating the most potent enthusiasm. I began by setting up a website. I wrote a rather hopeful email to a web design company and was delighted, if not a little surprised, to receive a phone call from them the very next day. Simon Meek was one of two designers that ran the company and my email had struck a chord with him. ‘I’d love to go to Antarctica but I know I never will,’ he explained. His reaction to the project would become a familiar
sleeping, I bizarrely found it quite liberating. Having safely stowed my Louis in my sledge, I would stand for a while with my hands tucked under my arms to warm them, facing out of the wind and gazing at the surreal world that surrounded us. These were the only moments during the entire expedition when I could be alone and I treasured them. They felt special, private and unobserved, a moment for which I had Antarctica completely to myself. Wearing just the thermals I slept in and a down jacket,