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“You have to have a hell of a lot of drive and single-mindedness to do this, because everything in the world will get in the way to stop you,” he said.

Once Ms. Aston sets off, climbing thousands of feet in altitude through the Transantarctic Mountains and onto the continent’s vast central plateau, she’ll be utterly alone, with no other living thing in sight. Then, she’ll have to push through fierce headwinds for more than 300 miles as she follows a route along 132 west longitude to the pole.

Her way out - skiing along the 80 west longitude line to the company’s base camp on Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf - would presumably be easier.

“The West Winds, quite notorious. That’s the bit I’m most worried about in terms of weather, but once I’m past the pole, I’ve got the wind at my back,” she said. “So in the scheme of things, it works out pretty good this way.”

Ms. Aston’s expedition website is and her Twitter site for tweets during her journey is