Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole; Eight Women, One Unique Expedition
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
of us, creating a wide valley with overhanging rocks encrusted in ice and huge boulders topped with thick hats of fresh snow. The valley ended abruptly at a steep drop so that we could look down into a huge bowl that flattened out and stretched for miles. We could see the other groups making their way across the landscape, now so far away that they were just tiny multi-coloured dots. Since leaving the camp I had tried to close the gap between our group of stragglers and the other teams but our
looked at me wide-eyed for a second before jumping round the room, hugging everyone in sight, tears flowing. Before she left I cautioned her that Athina was upset and to tread lightly. Stephanie understood, and I knew I could rely on her to be sensitive. Alecia’s reaction was also heartbreaking. I explained that, in the end, it had just come down to the sledge-pulling. She pleaded with me to reconsider, promising to go away and train so that she would be able to pull the sledge. She valiantly
warped. It was time to bow out. I needed a new focus. For several years I had been vaguely aware of the British Antarctic Survey but I had assumed that to be sent to Antarctica you would need to be a serious scientist – to have a PhD at the very least – so I was surprised, and excited, as I read through their adverts asking for graduates to fill assistant roles. With conviction, I knew that I had found the new direction I had been looking for. After graduation I spent two and a half years,
rolled up the tent with all the equipment still inside and, placing the oversized bundle of material on two sledges, heaved our dilapidated shelter to the nearest of the camp’s store tents. These well-anchored shelters, although only a dozen metres long, were tall enough for a person to be able to stand upright inside and were, thankfully, mostly empty this early in the season. We coaxed the rolled tent through the narrow door and followed in behind it, all eight of us standing 180 Call of the
off. ‘Only do what is absolutely essential and think about being more efficient. Think about the time.’ As I spoke Era moved to one side and started undoing her harness. ‘What are you doing?’ I demanded. ‘I need to pee,’ she answered, unzipping her trousers. ‘Sorry but there’s no time. You’ll have to wait till next break.’ Era looked at me aghast and started bouncing on her skis, ‘But I need to go. I can’t hold it in.’ I sighed. It was clearly futile to make my point now but as we all waited for