M&G South Pole

To celebrate the millennium Ann and four other women, Caroline Hamilton, Zoë Hudson, Pom Oliver and Rosie Stancer made a bid to become the first British all women’s team to walk to the South Pole. Without the aid of guides they trained, planned and put together an expedition to leave from Hercules Inlet, Antarctica, to walk to the South Pole.

From the very beginning the team experienced some of the fiercest winds they had ever encountered. Antarctica is one of the windiest continents on earth, where the average wind speed is around 80 miles an hour. As the winds are katabatic, it constantly blew in their faces and it was important that every inch of skin was covered, as exposed flesh would freeze in minutes. In the first three days of the expedition the team climbed over 2,500 ft of the 9,000 ft to the pole, hauling sledges weighing twice their own body weight.

Ann and Caroline were jointly responsible for navigation and mainly used their watches and the sun to guide the team south. On whiteout days however when the sun didn’t shine and there was no contrast to the snow only the slow sluggish compass was used to pinpoint the way. The pair needed complete concentration, often using the direction of the wind to aid the process.

Besides the extreme cold, crevasses were the main danger and the team had to be in constant lookout for the hidden dangers beneath the snow. One huge crevasse took the team over 2 hours to cross. Although they travelled in whiteout conditions they also endured terrible storms that kept them tent bound and lost valuable travelling days. One such storm blew winds of over 90 miles an hour and threatened to tear the tent from the ground.

Christmas was celebrated with a phone call to Prince Charles, the expedition patron and the new millennium was celebrated with extra chocolate and a Mars Bar each.

Eventually after 60 days toiling south the team spotted the Amundsen-Scott South Pole base on the horizon. It was with huge joy and elation that after the 700 mile journey they stepped onto the pole and entered the history books as the first British all women’s team to reach the South Pole on foot.