Felicity Aston est une aventurière du froid. Je l’ai découverte il y a quelques mois et depuis je suis de près son actualité.
J’ai eu la chance de voir son film « Call of the White » le week-end dernier aux 20e Ecrans de l’Aventure de Dijon. Ce documentaire retrace l’expédition qu’elle a mené en 2009, en ski/pulka, jusqu’au pôle sud. Pour cette expédition, Felicity Aston avait constitué une équipe entièrement féminine dont certaines d’entre elles n’avaient jamais vu la neige. Un vrai challenge qu’elle a relevé avec succès.
Un Monde d’Aventures : Can you speak about you in some words ?
Felicity Aston : I am 34 years old and over the last 10 years have been putting together expeditions to the polar regions. I make a living from speaking and writing about these expeditions. I started out as a Physicist and Meteorologist working with the British Antarctic Survey at Rothera Research Station, where I was based for 3 years as a graduate.
MDA : I saw your expedition documentary « Call of the White » at the Dijon International Adventure Film Festival in France. Can you speak us about this expedition ?
FA : Call of the White is a film about the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition which I led in 2009. The idea was to create an international team of women to ski to the South Pole – anybody could apply to join the team regardless of their age, background or experience. Eventually a team of 8 women from Ghana, Brunei Darussalam, Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Cyprus and the UK were selected but several of the women had never done anything like this before – some had never even seen snow before. The film shows the team selection in Norway and then follows our journey in Antarctica. We had a lot of difficulties and set back but I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone so I shan’t say if the whole team made it to the South Pole or not!
MDA : We have understood that your preferred environment is the cold. Can you explain us why ?
FA : ‘Why?’ is such an easy and quick question to ask – but the answer is usually very long and not so easy! I have always been fascinated by the polar regions, perhaps because it is so alien to my home environment in south-east England. If it snowed when I was a child it was a really exciting event and everything looked so beautiful – perhaps this impression has stuck with me?
Once I had visited the polar regions for real, I was hooked. I love the way it feels so clean and smooth, I love the colours and the emptiness, I love the fact that it is so old and that the scales of the landscape make me feel so utterly insignificant.
MDA : You are young. How many expeditions have you led ?
FA : I have led 4 of my own expeditions but I have taken part in others with friends (which didn’t really need a leader) or as an instructor. Each expedition has been unique in its own way and I’ve loved them all.
MDA : Do you prefere expeditions alone (solo) or expéditions in groups ?
FA : I am about to set off on my first solo expedition so perhaps this is a question I can answer better in a few months when I return. Part of the reason I wanted to do this expedition was to find out what it was like to be alone in a place like Antarctica and to find out if I could cope with the pressures it brings.
I have missed not having a team with me – I’ve missed the buzz of excitement and the camaraderie – but, so far, I’ve also found it very satisfying. There is something very calming about being alone.
MDA : Which of your expeditions will you keep the best memory ?
FA : Each expedition has been special for one reason or another. I’m proud of crossing Greenland with 3 other women in 2006 because we functioned so well as a team and really pushed ourselves – we covered 1100km in 31 days.
Leading the international team in 2009 was also very special because of the friendships and achieving what a lot of people thought was impossible.
But perhaps the most rewarding was an expedition to Iceland in 2005 with a group of young people who had suffered a brain injury. Everyone came back from that expedition as different people with wider horizons.
MDA : Have you ever had to deal with the unexpected? If so, how did you manage to cope and what have you done?
FA : The unexpected is always happening – it is what expedition are all about, so you have to be prepared for it. I’ve had tents being destroyed in storms, team members falling through thin ice, vehicles breaking, people getting ill, vital kit being broken or lost, snow being in the wrong place, crevasses being where they shouldn’t be and even volcanoes erupting! Each time a solution has been found, which sometimes meant a completely different trip to the one expected, but you have to stay flexible and keep moving forward.
MDA : Can you give a tip to those who would like to live an adventure into the cold (like me) ?
FA : Start. Get a pen right now and start making a list of things to do to make your adventure happen. Top of that list should be to talk to anyone and everyone to get as much advice as you can.
All you need to do is make that first step, and the rest will follow – I promise you.
MDA : I’ve read that your next expedition is to Antarctica. When did you leave ?
FA : In mid-November I will be dropped off on the coast of Antarctia, on the Ross Ice Shelf – I’ll then ski for the next 70 days or so to arrive at the opposite coast of Antarctica on the Ronne Ice Shelf. It is a distance of 1700km but I have two resupplies, the first being at the South Pole.
MDA : I saw that you were a member of the Explore Foundation. What is it there?
FA : It is a speaker agency, but I have only just joined so I haven’t worked with them yet.
Thank you Felicity to speak with me and to share your passion
More about « Call of the White »
More about Felicity Astonwww.felicityaston.com Skype: felicity.aston www.twitter.com/felicity_aston Author of Call of the White Join Felicity on the Kaspersky ONE Trans-Antarctic Expedition from November 2011: www.kasperskyonetransantarcticexpedition.com
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