Antarctica: Two British Soloists Were Resupplied

Antarctic Poles
A manhauler crosses the polar plateau. Photo: Carl Alvey/ALE

Last week, a trio of British women — Wendy Searle, Jenny Davis and Mollie Hughes — reached the South Pole within days of each other. Searle and Davis were in a foot race for the women’s speed record from Hercules Inlet, and Hughes sought the convoluted distinction of youngest female to ski solo and unsupported to the Pole. While Hughes achieved a record of sorts, Searle and Davis missed out on the 39-day speed record by a few days. (Searle came closest, at 42 days and 16 hours.)

During the ensuing fanfare, some details seem to have been glossed over or conveniently left out. The 29-year-old Hughes lost unsupported status when she had a food resupply near Thiels Corner, thus altering her record to youngest female to ski solo to the Pole. She bested Anja Blacha, also 29, by a mere 15 days, although Blacha did a much longer trek, truly unsupported. Davis, who was having stove issues, also took a resupply in the final days of her effort.

In recent years, resupplies (and even the presence of guides) have sometimes not been mentioned in expedition write-ups. Minor quibbles to some, but as the trade routes in Antarctica have evolved into sport and record collecting, details matter. Hughes and Davis still put in solid efforts, but their resupplies do separate their achievements from the very best of Antarctic travel.

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About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK. He juggles a day job as a public health scientist with a second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, international magazines, and on various websites. Major bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Porsche, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

He holds two degrees in Exercise and Health Sciences, and a PhD in Public Health.

His areas of expertise are polar expeditions, mountaineering, hiking, and adventure travel. In his spare time Ash enjoys going on small independent sledding expeditions, outdoor photography, and reading adventure literature.

Read more at www.ashrouten.com or follow Ash via @ashrouten on Twitter and Instagram.

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PolarQuest
Dave King
1 year ago

Ash, why would you include the statement ” some details seem to have been glossed over or conveniently left out.” in your missive about these Women yet in recent viewpoints you wrote about Horn & Ousland`s venture across the North, you consistently glossed over or conveniently left out the fact that their expedition ended with an almost disastrous rescue ? If this is a platform for factual reportage of events, such selective opinions & bias, undermine its credibility as a news source.

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PolarQuest
Dave King
1 year ago
Reply to  Ash Routen

Thanks for your response Ash. So “little or no mention” of the resupply on the social media platforms of teams you were following, was enough to pen a missive that glossed over the efforts and achievements of those teams, and even leads with negative headliner. If that is indeed your opinion and the opinion of this platform, then so be it. Your essay created a negative tone right from the headline. Your comparison to these solo expeditions and the Ousland/Horn trip is “apples/oranges”, my reference in this regard is simply aimed at your bias reportage of those events. In so… Read more »

damiengildea
Editor
1 year ago

I realise that Eric Philips’ work on the PECS does not enforce this distinction, but in my opinion, you can’t claim a ‘solo’ if you receive Support in the form of resupply from an external party. ie. you can’t be both Supported and Solo.

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EricPhilips
1 year ago
Reply to  damiengildea

It’s definitely a point worthy of discussion but in my view we should align our definition of solo with that of the very established sailing world. Anyone sailing single-handed around the world is still recognised as solo if they stop at ports to pick up supplies (where they would literally transact with other people). For example the Velux 5 Oceans Race (former BOC Challenge) is a round-the-world single-handed yacht race, sailed in stages. It would seem petty to relegate a solo polar adventurer, who has already accepted the less-committing challenge of a supported trip, as non-solo if they collect depots,… Read more »