Antarctica: Two British Soloists Were Resupplied

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.