In the afternoon of Wednesday 10th February,
Radley mother, Mrs Rosie Stancer came to give a talk on her experience of being a polar athlete and
explorer in a packed Coffee Shop. Since
1996, she has embarked on polar expeditions across the world, becoming the
first women ever to cross the South Pole solo at a record-breaking speed of 43
She started the talk by giving us the secret of being a successful
polar explorer, stressing that hard-work, determination, commitment, passion and
courage were the traits required to be
successful. She wanted to be the first women in the world to get to the South
and the North geographical poles solo and without any support. She
mentioned that the North Pole is the pinnacle of
polar exploration and one of the most challenging tasks anyone can undertake
both physically and mentally. For example, only seven men have completed it solo and many have
lost their lives attempting this feat. She
said it is as much a mind game as it is physical and described trying to navigate
around the North Pole as a “game of lethal chess”.
While preparing for and during her expedition, she learnt to expect
the unexpected and was alone in temperatures of -40 degrees to -50 degrees,
which is seven times colder than the average deep freezer. By the
third day of her expedition, the temperature had dropped to -60 degrees and she
had frost-bite on her toes which would lead to gangrene. She was prepared to
lose her toes, but not her feet and resorted to taking her own toes off with a
sterilized pen-knife in order to carry on and survive.
Towards the end of her expedition, she made a vital mistake: she
put on her skis and went across a very thin sheet of ice. Half-way across the
ice beneath, her skis bend and then broke and she began to sink, until she was
up to her shoulders in water with her skis on and sled attached. She
said the only way she survived was through the voice inside her head, “the
Field Marshal”, which gave the her the mental strength to pull herself out of the
freezing cold water.
Unfortunately, with a week to go of her expedition to go, the ice
ahead was too weak for the plane to land and pick her up. She
had been on the ice for 83 days; but for the survival of her team she had to
leave the ice and return home to England. Her
next expedition is to cross the Taklamarkan Desert in Eastern China.
A very inspiring talk and a pleasure to witness it. I also
feel this is very fitting for this talk to occur, following the death of Henry
Worsley in Antarctica and it shows us the courage which the explorers go through to
achieve their goals. From everyone at Radley we send our condolences to his
friends and family.
Report and Photo by
Charles Henry, E Social and Frederik Grant, H Social, 6.1s.