Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hannah McKeand

One or two evenings a week there's a lecture of some sort in the galley. Last night's lecture was given by Hannah McKeand who told us how she got there. About a decade ago, her godfather died and left her a "pot of money" which wasn't enough to make her rich but, as she said, was way more than she could spend on shoes and handbags. She wasn't sure what to do with the money so it sat in the bank for a couple of years. When her boyfriend of seven years broke up with her, she did the "normal" things -- cutting off her hair, buying lots of shoes and handbags -- but wasn't quite over the break up. At a party, someone mentioned the movie the English Patient and said the cave in that movie was a real place. Hannah decided that she was going to go to that place, even though she'd never done any hiking or adventure vacationing. She kept referring to herself as a marketing manager from London. She did a bit of research and found out that it was in the middle of a huge, uninhabited desert, the second largest wasteland in the world. She found a couple or archaeologists who studied cave paintings and badgered them until they let her come on an expedition with them. After she finished that, she decided that she wanted to travel on Antarctica, so she found someone who led groups, assuming that he'd tell her she was crazy, but within 10 minutes he was telling her she should try to do a solo trip to the South Pole. She wasn't quite ready for that, so she joined a group and a few months later wound up in Antarctica, even though she'd never done any skiing in her life. That group made it to the South Pole in a month and a half, and she fell in love with the continent. She came back the next year and set the record for the fastest unsupported trip to the Pole, which means that she towed a sled containing 45 days of food, plus her tent and other essentials, travelling 15 or more nautical miles a day across 700 miles of snow and ice. She made it in 39 days and set the record. She's had lots of adventures since then and now makes her living as a guide. This year she led a group of three people from the coast the the Pole, one of whom was blind! It was an amazing lecture and I recommend attending it the next time you're at the South Pole.

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