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ExWeb interview with Clare O'Leary: flying the female flag among 15 men

Posted: Feb 29, 2012 04:42 pm EST

(Correne Coetzer) Following the busy South Pole season, the full North Pole ski route will also be exceptionally busy this year, and again gender biased. But being the only woman among 15 men doesn’t bother Clare O’Leary at all, says this Irish Everest summiteer and South Pole skier to ExplorersWeb from Resolute Bay.

She and Mike O’Shea team up this year. Clare’s previous two attempts were thwarted by a team mate’s frostbite and bad weather. She tells ExplorersWeb about being back for another attempt, how she mentally feels and about her training program.

ExplorersWeb: How does it feel to be back in Resolute Bay again?

Clare: It's great to be back here - I'm looking forward to getting started and hopefully the weather will play ball this year and we'll get on the ice without delays. In 2010, one of our team members got frostbite and we had to be evacuated in the first week. Last year weather conditions were too bad to allow us fly on to the ice, so it was a non starter. Both times it was hugely disappointing so fingers crossed for 2012.

ExplorersWeb: You will be the only woman on the ice among 15 men. Does that scare you or make you think what are you doing there?

Clare: No, it doesn't bother me at all. I've done most of my expeditions with guys only and generally it’s good fun and easy going.

ExplorersWeb: How would you compare your mental attitude towards this big challenge now in comparison to the previous two times?

Clare: Each year I've been up here I've learnt more about the Arctic - from spending time out on the ice and also through meeting people, chatting to others who have done expeditions here etc.

Hopefully that knowledge / experience will help us to make the right decisions and move faster / more efficiently on the ice. I'm excited about the trip - and am always pretty determined / motivated - so much preparation, time and energy go into this sort of expedition.

ExplorersWeb: How did your training program look?

Clare: My training has involved gym sessions for strength and conditioning, tire pulling for simulating sled pulling, aerobic training (mostly running and cycling) and I've also been doing yoga over the past year or so.

ExplorersWeb: Why do you and Mike make a good team?

Clare: We're both working towards the same goal, excited, determined and looking forward to getting on the ice; our aim is to move fast and have fun!

Clare O’Leary, a medical doctor, hopes to complete the ‘Three Poles’, Everest, South Pole and North Pole, with this expedition. She and Mike O’Shea will receive two resupplies. Their drop-off at the edge of Canada is scheduled for March 1. Japanese solo skier Yasu Ogita will share the flight with them.

Clare is the first Irish female to:
Climb Mt Everest (2004)
Climb the Seven summits (highest mountain on each Continent)
Climb Ama Dablam in the Himalayas
Ski across the Greenland ice cap
Ski to the South Pole.

#Polar #topstory #interview

Clare, Mike and Yasu spent their first night in their tents. In the image, Clare during training in Iqaluit.
courtesy Mike O Shea
Clare: "I am always pretty determined / motivated - so much preparation, time and energy go into this sort of expedition."
In the image, Clare O Leary and Mike O Shea yesterday in Resolute Bay.
courtesy Irish North Pole 2012