Editorial: Might is The Answer to Why (Updated)

Johanna Davidsson: New South Pole World Record

(Updated Dec 24: Johanna reached the South Pole today, setting a new female World speed record. Preliminary time is 39 days, 2 hours, 50 minutes, shaving 6 hours from Hannah McKeand’s achievement.)

At the end of the day in my first weeks skiing to the South Pole I was psyched to spot 15 kms on my GPS. She logs twice that day after day, all while building Great Walls of China against the Katabatic blows.

Swedish Johanna Davidsson was raised by the wolfs (living in Norway, trained by Amundsen’s cousins). Her dispatches are as unassuming as you would expect from a born champion: “I really like this place.” Another entry: “Did my 8 hours as usual today. Surprised by distance on GPS.”

With all the boasting elsewhere on the ice, it’s refreshing.

In one of her musings she mentioned a sailing trip across the Pacific Ocean. Antarctica sort of gives her the same feeling, she wrote, the notion that everything can be achieved in this world.

The current female solo speed record on the ice is Hannah’s 39d 9h 33min. Johanna started out on Nov 15 at 16:30 (ZULU). If she arrives the pole before 2:03 AM on December 25 she’ll beat it.

Funny enough, “that was absolutely not the plan,” Norwegian polar veteran Lars Ebbesen told us.

Records expand human limits but more importantly, in her innocence Johanna breathes the essence of exploration. The best I’ve ever seen it expressed was in a few sentences written years ago, by blind adventurer Imtiaz Moosa after a life-changing canoe trip down the Yukon River:

“What inspires and encourages humans is consciousness of one’s power.”

When people ask why, I can never really explain it. But there it is, the secret sauce.

About me: I skied to both Poles many years ago, with my husband Tom. It was terrible and awesome. I also once shared a pack of Marlboro with Rune Gjeldnes. That’s for another story though.

Johanna’s website


Johanna in reach of World Record; Horn, a cat with 9 lives

South Pole Interview with Johanna Davidsson: kite return attempt

Adventure Record Holders: Interview with Hannah McKeand, “Still want to ski solo to the North Pole”