For so many, the knowledge that winter follows Autumn is a certainty. For many others, like Helly Hansen ambassador and polar explorer Caroline Côté, the knowledge that winters are critically endangered drives them to action. Caroline, a professional adventurer, and endurance athlete, has a deep love for icy places and educating the public about their importance through the stories her footage and images tell.
This November, Caroline will start her attempt to become the fastest woman to reach the South Pole on skis, in complete autonomy, 1130 km across Antarctica. Her goal is to break Johanna Davidsson’s record of 38 days, aiming for 36 days. The expedition will begin at Hercules Inlet with Caroline traveling seven to ten hours each day through wind, snow and whiteout conditions, and temperatures ranging from -25 degrees Celsius to -40 degrees Celsius. Less than ten women in the world have ever achieved reaching the South Pole on a solo ski mission. Testing her fitness, stamina, determination and mental strength, Caroline considers this challenge the most important of her career.
“It is a project that goes beyond anything I have faced in the past,” says Caroline, who has been a part of several expeditions in unexplored and uninhabitable places, including a North Atlantic Ocean sailboat crossing, several Antarctic expeditions, and a fully autonomous trek for 63 days through the Svalbard archipelago.
But this time, it’s different: Caroline is well aware she will undoubtedly face the effects of climate change, and this could be her last expedition. “Will I be able to practice my profession as an explorer and guide in polar environments in the next few years?” she reflects. Her ability to adapt to this challenge mirrors what humans will have to do to avert the consequences — or face them. “I want to protect these places. I know that I will inevitably leave a trace there.”
A secondary but no less important goal of this project is to raise awareness of the environmental issues clearly visible in Antarctica, and the mission and activities of expedition partner Protect Our Winters (POW) Canada. Caroline and POW have set up a donation space which will help support both her journey and furthering POW’s mission. “I decided to join POW Canada in my campaign because I know that together we can make a big difference,” she says. For all donations, POW will issue a charitable receipt and donate half of the proceeds to Caroline to support the project. The total donation goal is $10,000.
Helly Hansen, also a proud POW partner, will supply much of the apparel and gear Caroline has come to trust since becoming a global ambassador in early 2020 that will be essential for her success. In addition, aiming to help spread her message far and wide, Helly Hansen is the presenting sponsor of an upcoming 6- part miniseries launching in October. Set in Greenland, the videos will depict all that it takes to go on an adventure in a polar context as she prepares for the greatest expedition of her life.
“Sharing my passion with everyone through documentaries about my expeditions allows me to have a voice, to talk about the climate issues of the places I visit, but is it enough?” Caroline asks. There is only one answer she has: “I dare to accept the challenge.”