Caroline Cote Smashes South Pole Speed Record

Canadian Caroline Cote has smashed the Hercules Inlet to South Pole women’s speed record. Cote arrived at the Pole after 33 days, 2 hours, and 55 minutes alone on the ice.

Cote elected to start her run slightly later in the season to avoid early-season weather instability. She set off on December 9 and quickly found a rhythm. While other expeditions lamented about sticky snow, whiteouts, or wind, Cote’s daily check-ins were universally upbeat.

She was on pace for a sub-40-day run from the beginning, but Antarctica is unpredictable. There was no guarantee that Cote would be able to maintain the pace required to best Swede Johanna Davidsson’s time of 38 days and 23 hours.

Caroline Cote

A file photo of Caroline Cote. Photo: Caroline Cote


Despite a great start, Cote needed only to look at the season’s other speed record hopeful to remind herself to keep pushing. On December 19, Wendy Searle aborted her expedition to the Pole with a chest infection. By then, she’d had little chance of troubling the record, as she had fallen well behind Davidsson’s (and Cote’s) pace. She chose to end her run after only 340km.

Meanwhile, Cote soldiered on. Over the weeks, Cote churned out big day after big day, through sastrugi fields and whiteouts. Consistency was key. She kept piling up 30km+ days and neared 40km on those days with better weather.

Her final time of 33 days, 2 hours, and 55 minutes shaves more than five days off Davidsson’s 2016 record. It should prove hard to beat.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found out in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.