|24 Jun 2022
When were you a student at Kellett? Did other members of your family attend, and are you in touch with any friends from school?
I attended Kellett in Kowloon Bay for one year in 2014-15 and was in Bowen house. My two younger siblings, Angus (OK 2015-17) and Lettie (OK 2015-17) were also at the school at the same time as me in the junior school and stayed on at the school for a few years after I had left to go back to the UK to complete my GCSEs. My years at Kellett are some of the fondest memories I have from my school years, and I’m still in contact with some of my close friends from the school, despite attending for only a short period of time. There are even some old Kellet students from my school year at my university, who I see often.
You are in your second year studying geography at the University of Edinburgh which must keep you busy, but you’ve decided to do cross country skiing for 20 days across the arctic sea ice - why?
I am currently studying Geography at the University of Edinburgh, where a major part of my degree surrounds the environment and environmental issues within our society. I have always been interested in this topic and have always been extremely passionate about making changes to these issues where possible. Finding the expedition and hearing about the environmental impact, and it hopes to achieve, had me jumping at the potential to be involved. The huge personal challenge was also a large attraction. I have always been a dedicated outdoor and sports lover, competing in ski racing around Europe and recently taking up rock climbing, all of which was cut short or postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. Being able to make a positive impact to our world as well as challenging myself and adding to my academic progression has been the major pull factors in joining the team.
Have you always been a skier?
I started skiing with my family at a young age, and began competing at 15 with my school. At 17, I began competing in Europe and New Zealand with a team, and now compete with my university ski club, of which I am Vice President. I’ve met most of my friends through the sport and am now branching out from racing slalom and giant slalom to allow for more ski touring and explorative skiing. This is another reason why the expedition was such an attractive feat, as it would allow me to challenge myself to learn a new discipline of skiing.
What is your training regimen like?
The training from Ice Warrior (a company that specialises in polar exploration training) consisted of a selection weekend, followed by 10 days in Dartmoor learning basic or ‘core skills’ which could take us to the arctic to complete basic and advanced polar training. This consisted of learning tent work as a team, rope work and navigation and survival skills, as well as completion of an advanced first aid course in the first four days of the course. With this in place, we went to Svalbard, Norway, to complete our basic and advanced polar training. We learnt to cross country ski and woke up for a 6:30am ski every morning – polar day made this surprisingly easy as it felt like midday the whole two weeks we were there! This skiing each morning eventually lead to skiing with a pulk full of equipment – on the final expedition, these will weigh our body weights plus, so it's extremely important to get training with them as soon as possible! Putting in place all our skills from core skills and first aid training, we learnt to survive in the arctic as a team, and practised pulley systems and storm proofing, as well as building toilets to allow us to set out on a mini practise expedition. Survival skills such as building snow holes and polar bear safety were my favourite part of the training from this trip. I will be returning to Svalbard in January to complete a week-long training expedition and hypothermia training in order to be deemed competent enough to do the expedition, beginning in February from Resolute Bay in Northern Canada. In my own time, I have been continuing to climb and keep up my general fitness with.
What do you hope to achieve with your trip?
The aims of the expedition are to reach the centre of the Arctic Ocean, the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility, which has never been reached by humans before. We will be collecting scientific climate change data along the transect from the edge of the ocean to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility for the NASA funded National Snow and Ice Data Centre. We will be counting polar bears, taking ice measurements and cores, all of which will be the first of its kind as we will be going into unchartered territory. On ice, climate change data from the Arctic Ocean is lacking, and our data will be used to help build a picture of how the poles are affecting and being affected by anthropogenic climate change. On a personal level, I hope to be able to push through all mental and physical barriers and complete my part of the expedition, and hope to gain knowledge and education from my experiences.
If you want to keep track on Ella’s journey, you can follow her Instagram here @icewarrior_ella, and also check out the Ice Warrior video below to see Ella and her team training.
If you would like to support Ella on her expedition to The Arctic Circle, check out her fundraising page.
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