By: Julia Savacool, ESPN
The hardest moments of 33-year-old explorer Felicity Aston's trip were the first ones. Standing in the snow, watching the plane that had just dropped her off in the most remote region on earth disappear into the clouds, reality hit hard.
"I have never felt so small," she said. "All around me, as far as I could see, there was no other sign of life. Just me." And miles upon miles of snow-covered land that she would have to ski before reaching her destination on the other rim of the continent, where she would be able to claim her title as the first woman to make such a crossing unassisted.
Beginning last Nov. 25, she towed a sled carrying two boxes of food, carefully rationed to be as light as possible on a journey that would last 59 days. She received two food drops along the way. For fluid, she drank snow melted over a hand-sized burner. She planned for the trip meticulously, from gathering the highest-tech equipment to protect her from the elements to doing endless squats at the gym to strengthen her legs to consulting with a sports psychologist about some of the mental battles she would face.