Monday, December 7, 2009

Ottawa woman safe after Antarctica ordeal

An Ottawa resident who is trekking solo across Antarctica says she is doing fine despite a "pretty serious fall" down an icy crevasse just two days into her expedition.

Meagan McGrath is attempting a 45-day, 1,100-kilometre journey from Hercules Inlet on Antarctica's coast to the South Pole. She plans on making the entire trip, which began Tuesday, only on foot or on skis.

But on Wednesday, an hour and 15 minutes after she left her base camp, McGrath fell down a crevasse and could not get out.

She had to use a satellite phone to call for assistance, which came eight hours later in the form of a four-person team from Patriot Hills, a commercially operated base camp.

McGrath, 32, suffered only bruised ribs.

"It was a pretty serious fall, and I was very fortunate to come out of it not only alive, but in one piece as well," said McGrath in a Thursday audio blog entry recorded in Antarctica.

She said she is now recuperating from the fall and is considering whether to continue with the expedition.

"I'm happy to report that it appears I may carry on in some aspect of this expedition. I'll be confirming details later on," she said.

"I'm not making any rash decisions."

She said she has to first determine whether her equipment, health and mental state are fit enough to continue with the journey.

McGrath's sponsor, Science North, says if she is successful, McGrath would be the first Canadian to traverse the distance from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole alone.

McGrath, an aerospace engineer with the Canadian military, has successfully taken on a number of other challenging expeditions, including a climb to the summit of Mount Everest and a trek to the North Pole.

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