Johanna’s original goal wasn’t to break a world record but to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole and then kite back. During her journey, she realized that she was making very good time and had a chance to in fact beat the current record. She decided to give it her best shot, and on Christmas Eve 2016, she reached the South Pole in 38 days 23 hours and 5 minutes. That time is 10 hours faster than the previous record holder, Hannah McKeand, who made the same intense 702 mile or 1,130 km journey 10 years earlier in 2006.
I had somehow stumbled across Johanna’s Instagram account November of 2016, just as she was starting her journey in Antarctica. I was able to follow along as she skied her way to the South Pole without using kites or resupplies. She was able to post images and videos of herself out in the middle of nowhere, smiling and skiing along.
If you want to learn more about what an Antarctic solo expedition is like you can read/watch/listen to Davidsson’s blog of her journey at solositer.se/en.
In July, I had a chance to see and hear Johanna speak to a group in Sweden and learn more about why she decided to go, what it was like to prepare, and what it was like out on the ice. What impressed and inspired me most was her positive attitude throughout her experience before, during, and even making her way back.
Johanna was able to celebrate her 33rd birthday while on her journey and even surprised herself with a cake and balloons. She would make sure to celebrate not only the big moments but the little victories as well. Every time she’d make it up a small hill; she’d celebrate. She hated the hills and drifts, but would tell herself that the hills were so big because they were happy. She would tell herself “My body was made for this!” So she would ski up the happy little hills and that seemed to make it less hard.
What most people don’t realize is that skiing to the South Pole is uphill the entire journey and is at altitude. The South Pole is 9,301 feet or 2,834 meters, but the atmospheric pressure in this part of the world makes it feel more like 11,000 feet or 3,500 meters. Her positive outlook is part of why she was able to push through and beat the World record.
You may have noticed that her website is called Solo Sister. The sister part comes from her occupation as a nurse. Sister is common term used as a nurse and is mostly used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. Johanna wanted something to not only describe her journey but to also call out her occupation.
This isn’t Johanna’s first adventure. To see what it would be like to do a solo trip, she kayaked solo around the Finnish and Swedish coasts in 92 days, covering 2,274 miles or 3,660 km. She has sailed across the Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to Cape Town. And in 2014, she and her sister became the first Swedes to cross Greenland on skis with a kite, a distance of 1,429 miles or 2300km in 36 days. This trip helped prepare her for her Antarctic expedition.
Johanna gives a TEDx talk about her experience in Antarctica and what motivates and drives us to follow our dreams. Watch below:
While not working as a nurse, Johanna is out on other adventures. She recently had a rock climbing adventure in Kyrgyzstan. Currently, she is back in Antarctica working with ALE, (Antarctic Logistics) until January 2018.