Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Trail of the Lonesome Pole

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Trail of the Lonesome Pole

Article excerpt

Can you be homesick for a place that is nobody's home? The polar explorer and climate scientist Felicity Aston is sure that you can. In the same way as you or I might yearn for the house we grew up in or the town where our school was, Aston hankers for the frozen wastes of Antarctica. When she was 23, she got her first "proper job", as a meteorologist at the Rothera Research Station on Adelaide Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and spent three years working there. It changed her.

More than ten years later, the place still has a powerful hold over her. "You see the good weather, the bad weather; you see it in darkness, in light, in moonlight, in sunshine; you see it on days when you love it and days when you hate it," she explains. "I know it's a bit of a cheek to try to call Antarctica your home but it is somewhere that I have just endless fondness for."

In 2012, Aston became the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica--a fact she says she found out only later, when a journalist pointed it out to her. "Firsts are important because they give you the platform ... But for me, the motivation was not necessarily to stamp a 'first' on my forehead. It was all about the journey--my life so far has been quite woven up with Antarctica."

As an experienced explorer--she had previously raced to the South Pole and across Arctic Canada--she knew the physical challenges of the expedition. What took her completely by surprise was her emotional reaction to the perpetual solitude out on the ice. …

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