Hannah McKeand back to the South Pole: Solo, unsupported and in record time

Posted: Sep 21, 2006 07:42 pm EDT

(ThePoles.com) Remember Hannah McKeand, the woman adventurer who stared down grumpy locals in Afghanistan and picked up men in Punta Arenas' bars right before skiing to the SP with Denise Martin?

After the pole, Hannah sailed around the world and earlier this year showed up again as founder of Blizzard Expeditions, an adventure outfit exploring the Southern Ocean regions Antarctic coast included.

In a few days, Hannah will board the Blizzard sailboat off the southern coast of Tasmania for a trip to the Magnetic South Pole.
Right after, she will go for the other South Pole the Geographic one.

Solo, unsupported - and well trained

The plan is simple: Ski the 730 miles to the South Pole, solo and unsupported in a record time of 40 days.

Hannah plans to land at Patriot Hills early November and practice for two weeks; skiing to Hercules Inlet and back. I intend to train hard and get used to the uphill section out from Hercules Inlet, she told ExplorersWeb. With that I hope to increase my speed and cover 15km a day by the time I start the real trip.

Three other women have completed the trip to the South Pole from Hercules Inlet solo and unsupported: Norwegian Liv Arnesen covered the 1130km distance in 50 days, back in 1994. On November 30, 2003 two British women, Fiona Thornewill and Rosie Stancer-Clayton set off from Hercules Inlet, Fiona reaching the Pole on January 10, 2004 and Rosie only two days later. Hannah will attempt to break Fionas speed record by two days.

After getting a degree in Classics at Lampeter University and working as Marketing Manager and then Head of Touring for the Watermill Theatre in Newbury for seven years, at 31 Hannah McKeand decided to drop everything, mortgage the house and go exploring.

In 2001 she traveled across the Western Desert on the borders of Egypt, Libya and Sudan; the first of several trips to the Northern Africa desert areas. In 2004, she hiked across Afghanistan. Later that year she joined a team led by Denise Martin for the South Pole. Other members were Owen Jones, Craig Mathieson and Fiona Taylor. They were dropped onto the ice at Hercules Inlet on November 4 and headed straight into bad weather.

Fiona suffered frostbite during the trip from Hercules Inlet to Patriot Hill, where she decided to abort her attempt. Weeks later, Owen, in pain due an Achilles tendon injury, would be airlifted near the Thiel Mountains.

In exchange, the team was joined by Stuart and Linda, who were pinned down when their team leader Devon suffered a bad cut to his hand, and had to be airlifted from the ice. The group arrived at the Geographic South Pole on Dec 29, 2004.

Back from Antarctica in 2005, Hannah completed half the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, sailing as watch leader on Glasgow Clipper from Liverpool, England to Portugal, Brazil, Durban, Fremantle, Singapore and the Philippines.

Earlier this year, Hannah resurfaced - teaming up with David Prize, an experienced Antarctic and Southern Ocean sailor, to launch Blizzard Expeditions; an adventure outfit company exploring the Southern Ocean regions including Antarctica, South Georgia, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego as well as Cape Horn and the Beagle Channel.


Hannah hopes to ski the 730 miles to the South Pole, solo, unsupported and in a record time of 40 days.
December 29, 2004: Hannah McKeand at the South Pole.
All images courtesy of Hannah McKeand (click to enlarge).

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