A Story About the South Pole and a Southpaw (with a few penguins)

By Jules Torti | September 11, 2021

You might be wondering what tennis and the 66th parallel could possibly have in common. It’s doubtful that you will ever find tennis on a Wild Women itinerary but there’s a connection here between the South Pole and Canadian’s surprise southpaw, Leylah Fernandez. The spunky 19-year-old has become a U.S. Open darling, landing a coveted spot in the final despite her ranking of number 73 in the world.

Fernandez is confident, she’s determined–she’s willing to exhaust herself inside and out for the challenge of it all. She is a wild woman on the court and we love-love her for her fearlessness. There are lessons to be learned from the “inexperienced” kid with the lightning bolt serve. Like, go for it!

Wild Women Expeditions offers three transformative Antarctica itineraries that require no tennis skill set at all. The White Continent can seem as daunting and intangible as a U.S. Open final. The fears of polar travel are real and nobody wants to be barfing over the side of a ship from seasickness. It could happen, there are no seasick-free guarantees, but in exchange you get to be in the company of the handsome Adélie penguins (as pictured above), tuxedo-wearing chinstrap penguins, spouting humpbacks and wandering albatross! The frozen landscape alone will light up your neurons like a LAX circuit board. 

We’re not sure where you’ve ranked Antarctica on your bucket list, but you should go all Fernandez and bring it to the top. Whether you are 19, an empty-nester, widower, single, straight, gay, Black, brown or green from the Drake passage, these trips can be customized to your abilities, pace and interests with options to kayak, snowshoe or simply count petrels and nurse a glass of Argentinian Malbec with new friends.

There are empowering women like Chris Fagan, who explored the South Pole in the most extreme way–she deserves a Wild Women badge too. Instead of a relaxed sail on the luxe Ocean Endeavour, Chris and her husband pulled 220-pound sleds (for 10 hours a day) across one of the largest ice shelves on earth in 2103 (on the northwest coast of the continent). She burned an estimated 8,000 calories per day which explains the 26 pounds of hard cheese and 16 pounds of salami in the sled that followed her determined ski tracks. 

Chris and Marty traversed 570 miles in relentless pursuit of their dream to reach the South Pole and became the first American married couple to ski without guide or resupply from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole. And they are still married! You can follow in their ski tracks in The Expedition: Two Parents Risk Life and Family in an Extraordinary Quest to the South Pole (Chris Fagan, She Writes Press, 2019). You can also opt to see the White Continent in comfort minus the sled and 16 pounds of salami!

Like you, Chris, Marty and Leylah all have a lot going on. There is no perfect time to “go away.” There will always be sacrifices and obstacles. Work. Kids. A root canal. The elderly cat who needs insulin injections. SUV needs a brake job. Roof needs repair. Does the furnace sound funny to you? Who will shovel the sidewalk?

Chris and Marty made the heartrending decision to leave Keenan, their 12-year-old son at home in the hands of a rotating cast of relations and friends to pursue their goal. Chris’s ailing 80-year-old father added great weight to her shoulders. Would he be alive when she returned from a seemingly selfish expedition? 

It’s a penultimate decision to make and Wild Women Expeditions can make it attainable. You’ll find yourself surrounded by a group of bold, brave women who ranked themselves as #1 and decided to treat themselves to a life-altering adventure at the ends of the earth. It’s time, don’t you think?

To help you get into the proper groove, check out this Adventure Canada primer: All About Penguins

And now for the POLAR PLUNGE! Are you coming?