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Fighting for pole position

To celebrate the 60th year of the Commonwealth, a group of eight women representing the group of nations will be going to the southern-most point of the planet for the expedition, reports Sahil Sharma.

delhi Updated: Feb 19, 2009 23:28 IST
Sahil Sharma

Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu or Aparna Ray? Who will be the first Indian woman to go on a skiing expedition to the South Pole? We'll find out in a fortnight.

To celebrate the 60th year of the Commonwealth, a group of eight women representing the group of nations will be going to the southern-most point of the planet for the expedition.

Before the expedition commences, sixteen candidates --- two from the eight countries --- will go through a two-week selection camp in the cold climes of Norway. Only one from each country will get to ski at the South Pole.

Dharmshaktu, an experienced mountaineer and freelance instructor in Darjeeling, has led several expeditions to the Himalayas but this will be her first experience on the blades.

"I am really excited about this trip. I have done many expeditions in the Himalayas, but going to the South Pole is something different," she said.

Norway will also be a big test for the probables as some of the participants will be seeing ice for the first time.

"The two-week camp will be the perfect test for us. In the first week, the selection process will be completed and the second week will be for training the selected candidates.

“With temperatures 40 degrees below freezing point, conditions will be perfect for a physically enduring trip," she added.

While Dharmshaktu has had several brushes with adventure sports, Aparna Ray is yet to taste the thrill pill.

A lawyer by profession, an adventurer by choice, she calls herself an 'adventure enthusiast'. Ray is both nervous and thrilled with the opportunity bestowed upon her.

"I have always been an adventure freak, so has been my family. But to get such an opportunity is just too much to handle. I have no experience in mountaineering or skiing. I have to start from zero to be selected for the trip to South Pole," she said.

Time will tell which of the two will make history as the first Indian woman to reach the South Pole, but what is confirmed is that history will be rewritten.