She did it!

Published on 17.01.2010 - Antarctic Odyssey

Meagan McGrath, the Canadian career air force major, has succeeded in reaching the South Pole, solo, on time and without any major setbacks.

We should however point out to begin with that right at the beginning of her trek (back on 2nd December, to be precise), McGrath fell heavily into a crevasse and had to wait for over eight hours, virtually without moving, for rescuers to arrive from Patriot Hills. And while everyone expected her to abandon her plan and perhaps come back to try again on another occasion, once she had regrouped back at Patriot Hills, the Canadian adventurer announced that she was still going ahead with her trek and despite everything would be attempting to reach the South Pole on schedule.

Which is exactly what she has achieved. As we have not had any direct communication with Meagan, this is the announcement published on 15th January by her sponsor on completion of her journey: "The adventurer, Meagan McGrath (32), has become the first Canadian national to ski to the South Pole without assistance or outside support. Originating from Sudbury and a major in the Canadian Air Force, Meagan reached her destination on 15th January 2010, at 3.58 pm, after a 40-day solo trek covering over 1 045 kilometres."

"McGrath skied approximately 28 kilometres (14.97 nautical miles) on 15th January to reach her goal. On her arrival, she received a warm welcome from the team at the Amundsen Scott base. Antenna problems meant that she was unable to be in contact with the media on that particular day, but she is currently attempting to remedy the problem."

"I am extremely proud of Meagan McGrath and what she has done to overcome all of the obstacles and achieve this unprecedented feat," said Jim Marchbank, general manager of Science Nord, McGrath's main sponsor. "Meagan is a scientist in her heart and every one of the expeditions she undertakes provides an opportunity for scientific experiments and observations. Science Nord is honoured to have been able to follow her progress and share her discoveries and achievements with the general public – and particularly with young people. I very much look forward to congratulating her in person on the remarkable success of her expedition in the Antarctic."

"On 7th December 2009, having sustained a serious fall into a crevasse and after careful reflection and consultation with other polar travel experts, McGrath made a number of modifications to her skis and relaunched her expedition, setting out this time from Patriot Hills. When she left, Meagan had to haul a sledge weighing approximately 91 kilograms (200 pounds) as well as carry fuel and supplies on her back weighing a further 18 kilos (40 pounds)."

"During the 40 days of her expedition, McGrath skied for between 10 and 12 hours a day, encountering some significant challenges along the way. She had to cope with periods of blizzards and deep snowdrifts and experienced problems recharging the batteries in her various electrical devices on account of a lack of sun. This affected her Iridium satellite phone in particular and meant she had to switch her device to power-save mode, which reduced her daily communications. Despite this setback, McGrath succeeded in maintaining contact with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) to send in daily reports on her progress and status."

"During the past week, McGrath passed through the 89th parallel South on her way to her goal, the geographic South Pole at 90 degrees South. When she arrived, she stated that she was suffering from a lung infection, which had slowed down her progress somewhat. Now that McGrath has reached the South Pole, she will spend a few days there while waiting for a plane to take her back to Patriot Hills. McGrath plans to leave Punta Arenas, in Chile, on 28th January, on a flight heading home for Canada."

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