The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expedition to attempt to ski to the Geographic South Pole, has selected three candidates for the coming November challenge, which coincides with the 150th anniversary since the birth of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole in 1911.
The three explorers are Kiwi Laura Andrews, 28, Norwegian Marthe Brendefur and Mike Dawson, 35, who has previously been involved as a mentor with the Trust.
Laura, an Auckland firefighter and medical first-responder was among hundreds of hopefuls, aged 18 to 35 from New Zealand and Norway, who applied for the 2022 expedition. Laura is named alongside Mike Dawson, a two-time Olympian and the current coach of the New Zealand canoe slalom team, and Norwegian Marthe Brendefur, an intelligence analyst and skiing addict.
Laura, who works for Auckland Airport Emergency Services, says she is thrilled to be part of the team, representing New Zealand on a global stage.
“This expedition is an incredible opportunity to expand my horizons and explore the extent of human physical and mental limitations. I wasn’t necessarily the sporty kid but each year I set myself a new goal, and am incredibly psyched to step, with the team, into my biggest challenge yet. It goes to show what taking that first step can lead to,” she says.
The expedition will celebrate 150 years since the birth of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen, who was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911 with his party. The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers team plan to tow sleds for 40+ days to attempt to reach the Pole.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson says they were overwhelmed by the high quality of applicants. “It is important people embody the spirit of explorers like Amundsen, are excited to be part of this incredible journey and are willing to share their transformational journey, and the Trust’s mission, with others,” he says.
Norwegian team member Marthe Brendefur was named on live TV in Norway on the 150th anniversary of Roald Amundsen’s birth.
Marthe, who hails from the west coast of Norway, is no stranger to extreme environments having crossed the Greenland ice cap in 2019 and skied at Finnmarksvidda and Hardangervidda – the two largest mountain plateaus in Norway.
Marthe says she is honored to be selected for this expedition.
“Experiencing Antarctica’s pristine and wild nature on skis has been a long-standing dream, and adding the historical backdrop only makes it more intriguing. I love that it is a joint endeavor, as I believe that cooperation across nations is imperative to protect the polar regions. Experiencing their uniqueness together seems like a good way to build bridges.”
Mike Dawson, 35, has previously been involved as a mentor with the Trust. Given his skills and experience, he will be tasked with capturing the team’s experience for a documentary on the expedition.
“We will be lucky to experience the beauty and vastness of Antarctica, and I’m looking forward to highlighting the importance and fragility of Antarctica and the Trust’s vision of inspiring explorers to the world, through the film,” says Mike.
The expedition, in partnership with Ousland Explorers and with logistics and support from Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, will be guided by Norwegian polar guide Bengt Rotmo and led by Nigel Watson.
This is the Trust’s sixth Inspiring Explorers Expedition following a crossing of South Georgia in 2015, an ascent of Mount Scott in Antarctica in 2017, a successful crossing of the Greenland ice cap in 2018, and kayaking expeditions on the Antarctic Peninsula in 2019 and 2020. The Inspiring Explorers Expedition team will leave in November 2022 and people can follow their journey online at nzaht.org.