Firefighter, Olympian and Intelligence Analyst taking on epic South Pole expedition
From fighting fires to skiing near on 1000km in the coldest place on earth, a Kiwi firefighter is preparing to test her physical limits.
Laura Andrews, 28, is one of three young explorers named today for the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expedition™, to attempt to ski to the Geographic South Pole.
The Auckland firefighter and medical first-responder was among hundreds of hopefuls, aged 18 to 35 from New Zealand and Norway, who applied for the 2022 expedition. Laura is named alongside Mike Dawson, a two-time Olympian and the current coach of the New Zealand canoe slalom team, and Norwegian Marthe Brendefur, an intelligence analyst and ‘skiing addict’.
Laura, who works for Auckland Airport Emergency Services, says she is thrilled to be part of the team, representing New Zealand on a global stage.
“This expedition is an incredible opportunity to expand my horizons and explore the extent of human physical and mental limitations. I wasn’t necessarily the sporty kid but each year I set myself a new goal, and am incredibly psyched to step, with the team, into my biggest challenge yet. It goes to show what taking that first step can lead to,” she says.
The expedition will celebrate 150 years since the birth of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen, who was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911 with his party. The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers™ team plan to tow sleds for 40+ days to attempt to reach the Pole.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson says they were overwhelmed by the high quality of applicants.
“It is important people embody the spirit of explorers like Amundsen, are excited to be part of this incredible journey and are willing to share their transformational journey, and the Trust’s mission, with others,” he says.
Norwegian team member Marthe Brendefur was named on live TV in Norway on the 150th anniversary of Roald Amundsen’s birth.
Marthe, who hails from the west coast of Norway, is no stranger to extreme environments having crossed the Greenland ice cap in 2019 and skied at Finnmarksvidda and Hardangervidda – the two largest mountain plateaus in Norway.
Marthe says she is honoured to be selected for this expedition.
“Experiencing Antarctica’s pristine and wild nature on skis has been a long-standing dream, and adding the historical backdrop only makes it more intriguing. I love that it is a joint endeavour, as I believe that cooperation across nations is imperative to protect the polar regions. Experiencing their uniqueness together seems like a good way to build bridges.”
Mike Dawson, 35, has previously been involved as a mentor with the Trust. Given his skills and experience, he will be tasked with capturing the team’s experience for a documentary on the expedition.
“We will be lucky to experience the beauty and vastness of Antarctica, and I’m looking forward to highlighting the importance and fragility of Antarctica and the Trust’s vision of inspiring explorers to the world, through the film,” says Mike.
The expedition, in partnership with Ousland Explorers and with logistics and support from Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, will be guided by Norwegian polar guide Bengt Rotmo and led by Nigel Watson.
This is the Trust’s sixth Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ following a crossing of South Georgia in 2015, an ascent of Mount Scott in Antarctica in 2017, a successful crossing of the Greenland ice cap in 2018, and kayaking expeditions on the Antarctic Peninsula in 2019 and 2020.
The Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ team will leave in November 2022 and people can follow their journey online at nzaht.org.
For more information, interviews or images please contact:
027 322 2103
The Antarctic Heritage Trust is a New Zealand-based not-for-profit with a vision of ‘Inspiring Explorers’.
A world leader in cold climate heritage conservation, the Trust cares for the expedition base huts and 20,000 artefacts left behind by early Antarctic explorers including Captain Robert Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Edmund Hillary and Carsten Borchgrevink.
The Trust shares the legacy of exploration through outreach programmes and encourages the spirit of exploration through its Inspiring Explorers™ programme to engage and inspire a new generation.