Chronicle of an adventurer’s attempts at a solo, transcontinental Antarctic ski journey.
Aston (Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole, 2011) is an Antarctic enthusiast, to put it mildly, and she has spent lots of time in its frigid climes. Eventually, the author decided to ski to the pole and past to the other shoreline, hundreds of miles away. Years before, two Norwegian men had successfully attempted the feat, but Aston would be the first woman to ski across without the aid of sails. The author tells her story with great urgency, duly noting the many challenges she faced: bone-cracking cold; raging winds that threatened to eat her tent; camouflaged, bottomless crevasses; equipment snafus; chilblains on the verge of sepsis; leaving her tent with the stove on: “it would take mere seconds for my tent and everything inside it to be consumed. I would be left alone, without shelter and without clothing in an Antarctic whiteout.” It is obvious from the narrative that the author both craves and fears solitude; it’s what takes her to the edge, a dark and creepy place of choking panic that occasionally touches on a madness that comes seemingly out of nowhere: “I was in a euphoric mood at the end of that first day but as soon as I crawled into the glaucous world of my small tent the nauseating sense of fear and trembling dread of the silence came flooding back.” Throughout her grueling adventure, she had her eyes and her notebook open, musing philosophically and recording the otherworldly beauty: the sun’s cinnamon glow at midwinter, water as black as licorice, an evening’s perfect metallic black and white.
A quick-reading account of a spectacular and appalling journey.