SUDBURY, ON – Canadian adventurer, Meagan McGrath (32) has arrived at the Geographic South Pole! The former Sudburian and Major in the Canadian Air Force reached her goal destination on January 15, 2010 at 3:58 p.m. Eastern Standard Time after a 40 day solo journey which spanned a total of 1,045 kilometres. In doing so, she has become Canada’s first person to ski solo, unassisted and unsupported, to the South Pole!
McGrath skied approximately 28 kilometres (14.97 nautical miles) on January 15th, to reach her goal destination. She has been greeted, as a welcome guest, by the group at Amundsen Scott Station. Due to antenna problems, McGrath has not yet been able to make contact with the media, but is currently working to rectify the problem.
“I am extremely proud of Meagan McGrath and everything she has overcome to achieve this extraordinary feat,” said Jim Marchbank, Science North CEO. “Meagan is a real scientist doing real science when she embarks on these expeditions, and Science North is honoured to have the opportunity to follow her and share her discoveries and achievements with members of the public, including youth. I look forward to congratulating her on such an outstanding personal success.”
In early December, McGrath was forced to reassess the eventual success of her Antarctic Odyssey. On December 2, 2009 - the second day of her expedition which originally started from the coast of Antarctica at Hercules Inlet - she suffered minor injuries after falling into a crevasse. A team from Patriot Hills (a commercially operated base camp in Antarctica), successfully retrieved Meagan and all of her expedition gear.
On December 7, 2009, after much thought, consultation with several experts in Polar travel, and some modifications to her skis, McGrath started her Antarctic Odyssey again, this time departing from Patriot Hills, Antarctica. She began her journey pulling sleds that weighed an estimated 91 kilograms (200 pounds) and carrying about 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of fuel and supplies on her back.
Throughout the next 40 days, McGrath skied approximately 10 to 12 hours per day and experienced several challenges. She travelled through many white-outs, and often had difficulty recharging her battery-powered devices, including an Iridium satellite phone, due to lack of sunlight. As a result she was often forced to keep her batteries on conservation mode, limiting contact with Science North and her Expedition Communications Manager. Despite this, McGrath maintained daily contact with the South Pole expedition agency Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) to report her status.
This week, as McGrath crossed the 89th Degree, making her final push for the Geographic South Pole (which is located at 90 Degrees), she announced that she was fighting a chest infection, which was slowing her progress slightly.
Now that McGrath has reached the South Pole, she will camp out for a few days awaiting her pick-up flight back to Patriot Hills. At this point, McGrath plans to depart Punta Arenas, Chile on January 28th to fly back to Canada.
Tickets to Meagan McGrath’s public presentation about the Antarctic Odyssey, which will be held in the Science North IMAX® Theatre in Sudbury on February 3, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased on-line by visiting http://sciencenorth.ca/meagan. You can also buy tickets in person at Science North or by calling 523-IMAX (4629) (1-800-461-4898 outside Greater Sudbury), to charge by phone.
Science North, Northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction, is proud to inspire Meagan McGrath’s Antarctic Odyssey.
ABOUT MEAGAN MCGRATH
McGrath (32), a former Sudburian and Major in the Canadian Air Force, has been granted leave without pay for one year, which began November 1st. During her one-year sabbatical, McGrath will embark on the Antarctic Odyssey and later pursue other interests, including climbing five of the world’s tallest mountains.
As a child, McGrath regularly visited Science North and was a regular participant in Science North's summer camps and programs, and that inspired her to pursue a career in science.
Science North, a Science Centre located in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, has been a proud supporter of McGrath during many of her greatest achievements.
In 2008, she became the only Canadian female, and the first Canadian Forces Member to achieve both versions of the Seven Summits – the highest peak of each continent. She has raced in the grueling Marathon des Sables in Morocco, reached the Geographic North Pole, and received a commendation from the Governor General of Canada for her involvement in the rescue of a Nepalese climber on Mount Everest. McGrath is passionate about adventure and about exploring the limits of what the human body can achieve.
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