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Alone in Antarctica: The First Woman To Ski Solo Across The Southern Ice

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In the whirling noise of our advancing technological age, we are seemingly never alone, never out-of-touch with the barrage of electronic data and information.

Felicity Aston, physicist and meteorologist, took two months off from all human contact as she became the first woman -- and only the third person in history – to ski across the entire continent of Antarctica alone.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Counterpoint (first published July 28th 2013)
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Jun 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF at page 75.

I can cope no longer with the ghastly over-sentimentality and amateur dramatics and the seemingly constant references to silence and bloating and nausea.

AND --- THERE IS NO MAP in this book! WTF!!

And there is no index either but - there ARE pages of writing such as:

'hanging gardens of snow blocks'
'my fragile sense of well-being'
'continued to swim into wind past my aquarium of mountains'..(wtf??)
'physical pall of loneliness'
'it wasn't smooth but covered in a web of corrugations,
Deborah Bower
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book impressed me with the author’s descriptions of the landscape and her experiences. Many times I found myself pausing to read a phrase over again just because it was so pretty or clever. She captures the severity of her extreme task and the challenges she faced in a way that draws you in and makes you self reflect. Her relationship with the sun is very charming.
Laura  (Reading is a Doing Word)
I absolutely loved this book! Different from other Antarctic travelogues as it examined the author's mental hardships during this lone journey, rather than just the physical ones. Beautifully written! ...more
Nov 07, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just recently got bit by the Antarctica bug, and this book seemed like it would be a good modern take on the adventure narrative I was looking for. But not only was there not much adventure to speak of (lots of wind and crying, basically), it also unintentionally shattered my illusions about polar exploration in general.

Like many other reviewers, I too was baffled by the strange lack of a map in this book. It seemed inexplicable to write a whole book about a supposed record based on geography
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Favorite quote: "It was clear to me that the success of my expedition had not depended on physical strength or dramatic acts of braver but on the fact that at least some progress -however small- had been made every single day. It had not been about glorious heroism but the humblest of qualities, a quality that perhaps we all too often fail to appreciate for its worth - that of perseverance." pg 239 ...more
Apr 23, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible story and it is nicely written, but it also left me wanting more (and sometimes less). Felicity Aston's feat of crossing Antarctica on skis, by herself, is undoubtedly impressive. It was an enriching experience to read a first-hand report of such an extreme experience. Additionally, I learnt about crevasses, sastrugi, a silver ball at the south pole, and a no-poo zone.

Nevertheless, descriptions sometimes fell a bit flat and started to feel repetitive (though I can hardly b
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this as part of my 2019 Reading Women Challenge; it fulfilled the category of "a book about a woman athlete." This is Felicity Aston's book recounting her remarkable journey to become the first person to do a solo cross-country ski across the continent of Antarctica. It is at times quite harrowing and endlessly fascinating. The setting itself is the main character of the book, and she does an excellent job describing what it was like. I was left in awe of her mental fortitude, as this was ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel-memoir
I loved this read. I've long wanted to go to Antarctica (and now know I don't want to ski across solo, haha!), and so appreciated Aston's story. It brought the continent, its weather conditions, and general human activity there to life in vivid vibrancy. Introvert that I am, the idea of being alone for so long sounds lovely--and yet, Aston shows the very real limits of aloneness and isolation. Definitely some food for thought! ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read as the first book in our block's new book club. Adventuring books are low on my 'like' list--Wild being one of my least favorite books of all time. This was better--at least Aston was experienced and prepared. The book starts out slowly, but gets better toward the end. She is slow to share the technical aspects of the journey that are of interest--how do you go to the bathroom, who funded this whole thing, etc. As the title states, the focus is on her being alone and what effect that has on ...more
Frances Burrage
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good lockdown read. Definitely made me appreciate all my creature comforts as she braved the Antarctic weather totally alone and miles from safety.
Sam O'H
Sep 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
As a mountain climber, I thought I had a pretty fair grasp of all the different ways to describe snow and ice. It turns out I wasn't even close. This book is a fantastic thesaurus for terms like 'snow', 'alone', 'bored', and 'desolate'.

The book also serves as a case study of the library of possibilities a person can employ to describe their own crying. My best guess is that the author was attempting to evoke an emotional response from the reader by providing such a verbose depiction of crying.
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Felicity Aston, the first (and only) woman to ski across Antarctic continent alone lays bare what it’s like to be truly alone. To be alone for two months while navigating roughly 1700 km through the most desolated and hostile landscape on our planet, most of the time without any any living soul for hundreds of kilometers around - either for company or help. Despite the incredible and heroic achievement of crossing the white continent, by no any means this is a bravado tale - on contrary, this is ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Good readable book of the first woman to walk across Antartica alone. As with these 'first' type people, I have loads of admiration, but less ability to directly relate. Sorry, there's a bit of me that feels I should like to, but I'm actually quite happy reading this with a mug of tea. Maybe that's why books like Gavin Francis's excellent Empire Antartica, his account as serving a year as base doctor at the British science base was one of my favourites (apart from him being a very good writer) t ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have often found that autobiographies are somewhat self serving. It was a pleasant surprise to read Felicities narrative and not find much of that. Alone in Antarctica provides a vivid description of her daily life on the ice, her small victories and defeats and her discussions of each. I felt that I was with her as she skied and with her in her tent where she often reminisced about the trials of the day and the fears of what was to come. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it t ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm in the throes of planning a section hike on the PCT. I have never been tent camping before. I want to read this book ten times over. She wants you to leave with one piece of advice 'get out of the tent'. I love to walk; I love to hike. I'm scared to camp but I'm doing my research, working with my gear, and learning my style. I sleep in every chance I can get and hate getting out of bed. I need to learn to get out of the damn tent. I'll be fine. This book helped. Felicity Aston is officially ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
An inspiring and empowering account of the author’s journey across Antartica - the first female solo exploration. A thoughtful well-written journey where the greatest challenge is the mental pressure and exhaustion of being alone in a vast, beautiful yet lifeless milieu. I personally loved reading about her story, she was so relatable and personable. I felt too, the whipping wind on my back, the bone chilling cold, the terror of being alone in a blizzard with only my tent as a shelter...and the ...more
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was the best book I've read in quite a while. It was fascinating to learn a little more about polar exploring and the impacts of isolation on the human psyche. I found it really engaging that as much as I could never imagine taking on a challenge like the author faced, she made the experience seem accessible and allowed the reader into the hardships and joys alike (spoiler: mostly hardships).

Highly recommend.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Enjoyed this memoir of a woman skiing alone across Antarctica. Aston used her writing to help us follow her emotions from the anxious and fearful beginning through the hard mental challenges she grappled with to the well-earned finish. She applies the lessons she learned to all of us: keep getting out of the tent each and every day.

This is not the typical type of book I am drawn to but was surprised how much I connected with it and ended up enjoying it. Good discussion at Book Club.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
At times, my attention drifted, but overall I enjoyed reading the book. It was not suspenseful like some real-life adventure tales are, but you get a feel for what it was like to be completely alone in a monotonous landscape for two solid months. I think part of the reason the book was not riveting was the author's impressive organization and skills. She made a couple of mistakes, but her experience and intelligence kept her out of trouble. An interesting read. ...more
Dannielle Pratt
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Once again, another book about a woman solo-ing some sort of hike. Except this time it’s probably the scariest of them all. ACROSS ANTARCTICA??? I think that sounds so terrifying but also intriguing... and Felicity does it! Cross the continent alone. I love the story, her writing kept me sucked in, and I always love when books add a picture insert. Well done, Felicity.
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.

It is a fascinating story of survival in an extreme environment, as well as, loneliness. I enjoyed the book alot.

Tim Roske
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved this account of her physical and emotional struggle. Highly recommended. I would like to see a map and some more detail of her gear.
Kylie Young
Jun 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Amazing feat, but you can only describe the weather, walking and aloneness so much before it becomes monotonous. Struggled to finish.
Kevin Kerber
Mar 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
I love survival adventure books, but this didn’t do it for me at all. Mostly about her thoughts along the trip.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
A notable achievement gone wrong in written form. Too much false bravado and personification for my taste.

Also, there’s no map! Am I just supposed to imagine her journey without visuals?
Tina Palmerio
Mar 20, 2022 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
If it's an enormous challenge to cross Antarctica alone and with nothing more than your own arms and legs to propel you forwards, it's also a significant challnge to write about it. After all, there are around sixty days of relentless sameness to describe, albeit with plenty of drama but usually of the same kinds, such as the horrifying prospect of tumbling into a crevasse and being unable to climb out.

Felicity Aston does an excellent job, conveying not only the extraordinary experience of sayin
Adam Meyer
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Common themes in this book ranked by prevalence: emotions, loneliness, wind, snow, sun, cold, ice, mountains, crevasses, other skiers (3)

No sense of unknown other than “will she lose her mind today?”, or during a few brief pages “will she freeze?”, or “will she give up?” for a quick moment, “will she fall into a crevasse?”. Learning about the “no poop” zone around the pole was one of the few interesting parts of the entire book. Very impressive overall physical feat, but it was rather uninterest
Upuli Pahalawatta
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a inspiring look which provides a glimpse into the great unknown.

Felicity Ashton does a beautiful job of recounting the beauty of Antarctica, the impact it had on her psyche and the often harrowing experience of being so alone.

Evocative prose and poetic imagery brings the cold and desolate beauty of the South pole, even to a 30 degree day in Newcastle.

She seamlessly entwines interesting pearls from her life as an adventurer, primarily at the poles with scientific and psychological insi
Mar 07, 2022 rated it really liked it
Antarctica is my random obsession (okay, one of many random obsessions). I loved following along with the author's adventure but there were a few things missing. There was a throw away line about her persistently coughing up blood but it was never mentioned again, leaving the reader wondering if that was really a concern. A map to follow along would've been nice too. Overall though, it was intense and exciting (and just added fuel to my obsession) ...more
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Homeward Bound Bo...: February book: Alone in Antarctica 4 9 Apr 03, 2018 05:21AM  

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Felicity Aston, is the first and only woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone. She completed the 1084-mile, 59-day journey in January 2012 and wrote a book about her experiences; 'Alone in Antarctica' published by Summersdale.

In 2009 Felicity led the 38-day, 600-mile Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition, the largest and most international women’s team ever to ski to the South

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51 likes · 4 comments
“Over the last decade my life has been almost exclusively pre-occupied by the desire for adventure, my mind relentlessly buzzing with plans for future journeys. And yet, as soon as my wish to disappear over the horizon into some remote corner of the planet is granted, my mind clings onto all the sentimental details of home and I find that my daydreams of escaping across wide open spaces are replaced not just by precious recollections of moments of affection with a loved one but by fond memories of family gatherings, jokes shared with siblings and time with friends. Expeditions temporarily empty my life of all but the basic concerns of eating, sleeping, travel and staying safe. Like clearing undergrowth from a garden to discover the outline of borders and flowerbeds underneath, reducing life to just the essentials reveals the fundamental structure that underpins the whole. I found that, with life at its most basic and my spirit stretched, what was most dear to me was memories of time spent with those I love. I take this as a clear indication that, above all else, this is what is important in my life. It was a lesson I had been taught before, but a lesson I needed to learn again. It was a lesson I needed to remember.” 4 likes
“It is this curiosity that motivates me to explore where my personal capabilities and limits lie, and which draws me to ever more challenging expeditions. I want to know who I am. Not that I am driven to prove myself a hero. It is in fact the exact opposite. I am driven by the fear that I will find myself lacking, and this fear pushes me to search for reassurance.” 0 likes
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