Hedvig Hjertaker of Bergen has become the youngest woman to ever ski alone to the South Pole. The 28-year-old adventurer arrived at her goal after 49 days trekking across the frozen continent.
Her manager Andre Fjærestrand Bratli confirmed her arrival to newspaper Bergensavisen shortly after 3am on Sunday Norwegian time. He reported that she was exhausted, hungry and suffering from some frostbite, but otherwise in “relatively good shape.”
Backed by several sponsors and with a solid track record of long-distance hiking, Hjertaker had flown from Chile to Union Glacier in Antarctica. She started skiing from the Hercules Inlet on a route ending at the South Pole.
She arrived at a local research station, where she’d already ordered her “dream meal” in advance: a hamburger. She’d run out of food along the way and reported getting “emotional” over the joy of eating a burger.
Hjertaker grew up in Bergen on Norway’s west coast and competed in swimming competitions throughout her childhood before becoming a dental hygienist for people who fear dentists. “This helps me conquer my own fears,” she writes on her own website called “Young Endurance.”
Previous feats have included skiing 600 kilometers over the ice in Greenland, hiking the 900-kilometer Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, cycling 2,200 kilometers from Canterbury in England to Rome and climbing the 6,962-meter Aconcagua in the Andes in South Amerca. She’s also served in the Norwegian military.
She’s written that she’s been testing her endurance for years but especially after recovering from a serious case of mononucleosis at the age of 19 and later losing her mother to cancer. “I’ve been reminded of the important aspect of time and possibilities,” she writes, adding that “it all starts with putting one foot in front of the other.”