Local adventurer prepares for the South Pole

November 27, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
A Bay Area woman wants to do something that no North American has ever done before. Alison Levine has already been to the North Pole. Now, she wants to conquer the South Pole.

We first met Alison Levine in 2002. She and four women tried to become the first female team to scale Mount Everest.

After two months of climbing, they had to give up due to inclement weather. They were only a few hundred feet from the 29,000 foot summit.

"You can't afford to be dumb up there. You have to use good judgment all the time. Sometimes, that means walking away from the deal when you're this close," says Alison.

Alison grew up in Phoenix. She was fascinated with polar explorers Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen and their race to the South Pole in the early 1900's.

"I feel like our time on this planet is somewhat limited. I'd like see to every ounce of this earth I can possibly see."

Allison is about to do just that.

"I hope to become the first North American to cross from the outer edge of the Antarctic Ice Shelf, 550 miles to the geographic South Pole, on foot and on skis."

She will be joined by two men from Australia and Canada and a Norweigian and Dutch woman.

"Antartica is basically 5.5 million square miles of of solid ice. It's the coldest, windiest place on earth. The harshest environment known to man."

Alison is 5'4" tall and 122 pounds. She will be pulling her sled of food and gear 15 hours a day, for six to eight weeks.

She's been training on local beaches, simulating the 150 pound sled.

"People ask me if I was a sled dog in my former life."

The South Pole is five million square miles of nothingness -- except for a few penguins.

"There's nothing to look at. You've got to keep your mind in check and not go nuts from the lack of visual stimulation. I think the focus has to be all eternal."

You can train for the physical effort, but nothing prepares you for minus 50 degree weather. Not one part of your skin can be exposed.

"The thing I'm most worried about is the cold and frostbite. If you start getting any kind of cold weather injury, your done," say Alison.

In Alison's previous adventures, she's never taken out insurance. It costs $300,000 dollars to be evacuated from the South Pole and she hopes she doesn't have to use it.

Alison Levine's Daredevil Strategies website addresses leadership development, team dynamics, overcoming odds, tackling fear, taking responsible risks and dealing with changing environments. Click here for more.

Alison will be documenting her adventure via satellite phone. Click here to check out her blog.