Veterinarian Geoff Wilson has become the first Australian to complete a solo, unsupported Antarctic crossing.
The Gold Coast veterinarian has been kiting, trekking and skiing across Antarctica since November 13, 2013 – with his pink ‘boobsled’ in tow – to raise breast awareness and funds for the McGrath Foundation.
His 53-day, 3,428.53km kilometre journey ended as the McGrath Foundation was preparing to celebrate Jane McGrath Day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“I wasn’t expecting to finish my journey so quickly, but after a couple of weeks of horrendous conditions the last few days were perfect. I was travelling up to 200 kilometres daily, the longest stretches I’d been able to accomplish on the crossing,” WIlson said today from an ice shelf at Hercules Inlet, while awaiting an airlift to Union Glacier and then home via Chile.
“As I covered the final few kilometres I was aware it was early morning in Sydney and thousands of people would be donning pink for day three of the Sydney Test. I remember thinking it was quite serendipitous that the Pink Polar Expedition was ending as Jane McGrath Day was starting.
“After 53 days on the ice I was totally spent. I rang my wife Sarah and some close friends to let them know I was safe then bunkered down in my tent and crashed – sleeping for 12 hours to wake up to the great news that the Aussies had scored a 5-nil ‘pinkwash’ of the Ashes series!”
“My family has been behind me every step of the way and every step I’ve taken is one step closer to home and to them,” he said.
Wilson, 43, averaged one-and-a-half marathons of distance per day for more than seven weeks. He is the first Australian, and just the third person in history to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica.
He also set a new record for the fastest solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica, beating the 17-year record of Norwegian Børge Ousland by 11 days. Wilson is the first Australian to approach the South Pole ‘the long way’ from Novo Station on the South African side of the Antarctic coast.
“Australia has a proud and rich history of Polar exploration so it’s just a tremendous feeling to achieve this record for Australia and set a new mark for the others to chase,” Wilson said.
Wilson has lost 18kg during his journey.
“My body’s a little battered and so is the pink ‘boobsled’, but it slid into the history books yesterday, which is great because it is the symbol of what this journey has been all about,” he said.
The Pink Polar Expedition was inspired by the strength of Wilson’s friend Kate Carlyle, a two-time breast cancer survivor.
“There were many days that I was tired and broken and feeling that I couldn’t go on but I’d remember those women and draw strength from their courage.
“My target when I set out was to raise $1 million and even though my journey on the ice has finished I’m not going to give up on that reaching that fund-raising goal,” Wilson said.
Donate at www.pinkpolar.com.au. All donations go to the McGrath Foundation.