Can you start by telling our readers why go to the North Pole?
We all have a place that intrigues us, that sparks our imagination. The North Pole had always been that magical and mystical place for me. The place that in one mysterious location embodied all that I dreamed of. With time I was fortunate in that the choices I made grew my knowledge of what it took to visit it as well as the experience that made it possible to do so.
In 2004 I was offered a place in a race to the magnetic North Pole and found that I was good at cold camping, my mind was suited to the tedium of 12-hour days pulling sleds and my body to endurance pursuits. It was then the logical next step to embark on an attempt to set a record to the North Pole.
Attempting to reach the North Pole means that you become exposed to the extreme forces of nature, such as extreme temperatures and sudden ice caps that break off. How have you dealt with moments of self-doubt?
Alone on the ice you live many moments of pure fear. At those times you rely on the many months of planning to give you strength to get through them. Each of the scenarios you played out in your mind and prepared for: every hour of deliberation deciding what exactly you would take in your sled. You have to believe that you prepared as best you could and draw on your preparations wisely to address the challenges you find. Then you shed a few tears and call your mum as often as you can!
You realized that you were four months pregnant on your way to the North Pole. What challenges for your work have you been faced with since becoming a mother?
I started to suspect I was pregnant half way through my expedition but of course, there is no pharmacy out on the pack ice to help you confirm or deny that suspicion.
When I finally made it to a pharmacy, I found I was over 4 months pregnant. Once I digested the surprise twist in my circumstances, I initially felt quite confident and prepared… besides, how difficult could taking care of a child be, had I not just spent 5 weeks surviving alone on a frozen sea in temperatures of 40 below zero??
Since then I have come to appreciate the magnitude of challenges that face women choosing to be mothers in a modern world. Where I had felt strong as an individual, I had to learn humility. Even as a strong, competent woman, I needed help. I learned that it is that community of supportive women that is our strength. More importantly, how important it is to recognise where you need help, to ask for it and to be available to offer it in return.
Identifying some of the areas where help is most needed has led me to work on plans to start my own support to parents through workspaces that address exactly this.
What does it mean to you, to be the first woman to ever get closest to reaching the North Pole? And what does it mean that you may be the last?
There was a moment during my last expedition when I stopped skiing for a moment and looked around. Stopping to smell the roses is a luxury you do not often get to indulge in on polar expeditions where the sub-zero temperatures make any prolonged stop potentially life-threatening. The intense beauty of my surroundings and the privilege of experiencing it shifted my focus dramatically.
I got stuck on an ice flow and did not set my original record to be the first woman to reach the North Pole on a solo expedition. The same circumstances that hindered my attempt have also made my expedition the last to have since been allowed to depart from Canada.
I hope that those circumstances change, and that the Arctic ocean will soon be solid enough for longer periods of time to allow for further expeditions. For now, I feel extremely privileged to have been able to experience time on the ice alone and am reminded to stop to smell those roses as often as possible.
Take 10 min out of your schedule and view Christina’s reflections of a polar expedition that she gave for a TED X Talk.
The four BOLD questions:
A scandalous life, the story of Jane Digby by Mary S Lovell
“Do what thy manhood bids thee do,
from none but self expect applause.
He noblest lives and noblest dies
who makes and keeps his self-made laws.” By Sir Richard Francis Burton
You are only able to make big Bold Moments happen if every day you make a series of smaller bold moments. The culmination of these brings you to a place where the big ones are possible from and do not by comparison feel so bold.