Woman begins solo ski trek across Antarctica

CARACAS, Venezuela — A 33-year-old British adventurer set out on skis Friday to attempt a historic solo crossing of Antarctica.

Felicity Aston aims to become the first woman to make it across the frozen continent alone. She expects the journey of more than 1,000 miles will take about 70 days.

She announced on Twitter that she was setting out from her starting point at the Ross Ice Shelf.

“Having breakfast looking at the mountains. The quiet will take some getting used to,” she said in one message. Later, she wrote: “With the first step of my journey I start the long road home.”

She is pulling a sled with supplies and first will be headed up the Leverett Glacier.

Boerge Ousland of Norway previously made a 64-day trip across the continent in 1997. But he harnessed the wind when it blew in his favor by strapping himself to a parachute-like sail.

If successful, Aston would become the first person using only muscle power to cross Antarctica alone. She would also set a record for the longest solo polar expedition by a woman.

As she progresses toward the South Pole, she will be climbing solo through the Transantarctic Mountains and onto the continent’s vast central plateau.

Aston previously spent nearly three years as a meteorologist with the British Antarctic Survey, and in 2009 led an all-woman group from the coast to the South Pole.

Her travel adventures also have included skiing across the Canadian Arctic and crossing the Greenland ice sheet. But this is her first solo expedition.

She flew from a base camp to the starting point of the expedition on Thursday, and then posted a simple message on Twitter: “Alone.”

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