Today, I’m boarding a plane and setting off on an amazing journey. It’s not a commercial flight, there’ll be no in-flight magazines or cabin service; I’ll be strapped in to the webbing of a military plane taking off from Punta Arenas, Chile.
The destination: Antarctica.
I’ll be landing on the planet’s southernmost continent for the challenge of my lifetime, a chance to test myself against the elements as I attempt to break the World Record for the fastest solo ski from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole by a woman. I will be completely unassisted and unsupported.
I’ll be joining a list of amazing women who through Antarctica’s history have broken boundaries. Ever since Caroline Mikkelsen became the first woman to step foot on the continent in 1935, twenty-three years after Robert Falcon Scott’s deadly expedition, some of the world’s most inspiring women have tested their mettle in Antarctica.
In 1994, Liv Arnesen took to the ice, making international headlines by becoming the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole, the same challenge I’m hoping to complete almost 25 years on. She completed the expedition of 745 miles (1,200 km) in 50 days. To honour her achievement and for added motivation, I’ll be proudly sporting an image of her face on my skis during this expedition.
For this expedition to count as unsupported and unassisted, I will have to take everything I’ll need for the duration of the challenge with me – no outside support is allowed. This means I’ll have to carry all of the food, drink, clothing and vital survival gear I’ll need, pulling it behind me on a sled weighing 80kg.
It will be the height of the Antarctic summer. Some days I’ll be able to see the sun trace a low arc across the horizon of the paper-white landscape, with the only features I will pass being sastrugi – impossible masterpieces sculpted out of the hard snow by the winds. Other days, the weather will turn, the snow will close in and I won’t even be able to see my hand in front of my face – I’ll follow compass bearings through the whiteouts, blindly closing in on my goal of the South Pole.
Antarctica’s history is full of stories of amazing people pushing the boundaries and achieving incredible things. For me, this expedition is the culmination of years of pushing my own boundaries. It is my ultimate challenge.
And if, in the years to come, another woman announces a bid to break the World Record – whether I’ve been successful or not – I’ll be the first to back her.
Ahead of the challenge, I want to take the time to thank my sponsors, including DHL and Atkins, who have been instrumental in my preparation and without whom I wouldn’t have stood a chance of even making it to Antarctica. DHL will be meeting me at the Pole, delivering the first package to the planet’s most remote location.
This blog will contain daily updates from the ice, as well as guest blogs from some of the people who have backed me and supported me as I prepared for the biggest challenge of my life.
As I always say, ‘It takes a village’ and I’m truly thankful to each of you.
To help Jenny raise funds for Children in Need, click here or text ‘SPJD99 £3’ to 70070 to contribute £3.
Comment below for the chance to have Jenny answer your questions during her solo expedition to the South Pole.