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"I wasn't going to make it, I was devastated" - 10 lessons I learned crossing the Antarctic

15 February 2019

Adventures don’t always go to plan – SunGod Ambassador Jenny Davis’ Antarctic crossing brought her to the brink of death and it taught her some valuable lessons...

For the bold few who attempt to cross Antarctica to the South Pole, they face a grueling trek across one of the worlds most remote environments. Jenny Davis was set to break the world record for the fastest solo female Antarctic crossing but when severe snowstorms and illness resulted in an abrupt end to her adventure, she faced heartbreak as her goal slipped away from her. She imparts her wisdom in the hope of inspiring fellow adventurers…

In December 2018, Jenny Davis set out on an incredible 715 mile journey across Antarctica. Hampered by severe snowfall and illness she was forced to stop early. Photo: Hamish frost

1) Preparation is everything

Regardless of the outcome, I felt incredibly well prepared for this trip and I wouldn’t change a thing. My training and choice of kit was bang on and that gives me a lot of comfort. I felt stronger by the day and was recovering so well each day. I made all these decisions so I found that comforting in my ultimate failure and if it hadn't been for the freak weather then who knows what I could have achieved…

2) Don't forget why you're doing it

I have a vivid memory of stopping one day to simply look around me. It was windy, bitterly cold and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It is so hard to explain the solemn beauty of Antarctica, being there alone made it all the more special and that moment made it all worthwhile for me. Never lose sight of the magnitude of what it is you are doing and the beautiful places your adventures will take you!

"I got my kit and sled down to a very light 72kg - It really makes you realize how little you truly need in life." Photo: Hamish Frost

3) It won't all be plain sailing

I was struck by the volatility of the highs and lows and it definitely taught me even more about myself. I remember my third day of being in a complete whiteout with no depth perception, I couldn’t even see my own skis, no horizon, no sun and the batteries were all running low as there was no solar power - my mood was low and it was really horrific. Then I set up camp for the night, had macaroni cheese for dinner and snuggled up in my sleeping bag thinking how damn amazing life is - all thanks to this warm bowl of food!

4) You'll discover talents you never knew you had...

Record peeing in high winds? A crucial talent for any female polar explorer, although I promise it is something you can learn on the job. I’m not sure how talented I really am at it though, on more than one occasion I accidentally peed on my compass and watched as it instantly froze…

"The mind boggles at how quickly you can forget and get over an awful day with a few basic comforts! "Photo: Hamish Frost

5) You’ll learn what is most important to you

I always return from these expeditions with a heightened sense of just how much my nearest and dearest mean to me and how fortunate I am to have people like them in my life. I shed many happy tears thinking about it all whilst skiing 10-12 hours a day!

6) Embrace the setbacks

The wind was so severe one evening that I couldn’t pitch the tent and had to keep travelling. As if this wasn’t enough, I ripped my gloves and had to tape them up. The tape was so tight it restricted the blood flow to my thumb and the pain is something I will never forget. I howled aloud and was terrified I had done some serious damage. The moment I ripped the tape off I felt fine and minutes later, I’m laughing at myself…

"I didn’t really want the time to pass, I truly felt at home in Antarctica"Photo: Hamish Frost

7) Relish the escape

I never felt lonely and this always surprises people. It was never a concern to me beforehand and wasn’t during. I could send text messages back home and so I’m sure that helped in making me feel more connected to back home. I knew I’d be comfortable with the solo aspect and in a chaotic world we live in, it’s no bad thing!

8) All you can do is control the controllable, the rest is good fortune

When I became ill I couldn’t accept that I had to leave before finishing the crossing. I was heartbroken. Two years of planning and training and here I was, defeated. Looking back, it was a good reminder that in life there are some things that you just cannot control, being hit with an illness is one of them. All you can do is control the controllable, the rest is good fortune.

"Once you’ve experienced somewhere like Antarctica I think you can only come back stronger for whatever you do next"Photo: Hamish Frost

9) Give your idea a chance to grow into something

The universe will conspire to help you in all sorts of ways, all you have to do is start. For me, that was opening a laptop and firing off those first few emails that set off the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime. Find a mentor. Do your research and find out as much as you can about that little adventurous idea you have in your mind, that project you’ve always wanted to do or wanted to find out more about - give it a chance to grow into something. Let it out, make a real effort with it and see what could happen.

10) You’re capable of more than you realize

We all are. It’s a cliche I know but it’s one we probably forget all too often - there are very few things we can’t achieve if we put our minds to them. Ultimately, I failed in my goal due to some extreme weather in Antarctica, but experiencing what it takes to pull off an expedition of that nature and having done so well in the field otherwise gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

"I cannot wait to help the next woman who attempts the record out there, I myself had help from the past two record holders and that’s very special to me.”Photo: Hamish Frost

Incredibly wise words from an incredibly wise woman. Unfortunately Jenny's journey across the Antarctic was halted by severe snowstorms and a bowel infection which led to doctors airlifting her to hospital in Chile.

The fact that Jenny didn't manage to finish this expedition makes the lessons she has learned yet more poignant. Sometimes adventures don't go as planned but isn't that what adventuring is all about? We're confident that when it comes to Jenny Davis, we aint' seen nothing yet and we can't wait to see what she does next!

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