Expeditions to the last true wilderness
Kate Powell meets with polar explorer Sunniva Sorby for an exclusive insight into the challenges, rewards and hidden secrets of the enigmatic South Pole.
Any true traveller knows that luxury is more than simply cost, more than simply comfort. The time and freedom to search for something more, to chase adventure simply because it’s there, and even to challenge yourself to evolve: these are the more rewarding luxuries afforded by this short life that Polar Latitudes’ Global Sales Director, Sunniva Sorby, values. “We have a range of guests – they’re always well-travelled, well-educated, they want service and professionalism – but they also want to achieve that unrequited dream within,” she confides.
Sunniva is the physical incarnation of the adventurous spirit. Born in Norway and raised in Canada, she made history as a member of the first women’s team ever to reach the South Pole on foot.
Today, she leads expeditions to Antarctica aboard Polar Latitudes’ boutique passenger ships.
Breaking the ice ceiling
In her twenties, Sunniva was invited to join the first team of women that would ski across Antarctica to reach the South Pole.
The expedition required each member of the team to pull a 100-kilogram sled behind them for a gruelling three-month journey, but on 14 January 1993, the women prevailed.
“It was minus-76 degrees Celsius, and we were standing at the place where the earth squeaks on its axis,” she tells me. “It was incredible.”
I am thrilled to learn that today, Polar Latitudes proudly carries the torch for women in exploration and science with the Homeward Bound initiative for women, which serves to increase women’s participation in the science and policy decisions that affect our planet’s future.
Luxury in extremity
Antarctica is an exclusive destination few have been lucky enough to witness.
Island Sky houses just 114 passengers in all-suite accommodation. Ships also feature live entertainment, a voyage photographer and a library equipped with Wi-Fi and lounges, offering comfort in this otherwise unforgiving climate.
However, hidden within life’s greatest challenges are also the greatest opportunities to grow, and Sunniva understands the appeal of Antarctica for this very personal aspiration.
“It’s transformational because Antarctica is a place that reflects our greatness,” she tells me. “It reflects power in the ice and the snow and the history, and all the things that live down there. It reflects our tenacity, and our human spirit. It’s the only place in the world where we go that we can’t take anything; we just experience it.” polar-latitudes.com
02 01 Stunning ice-scapes viewed in comfort from MS Hebridean Sky © Polar Latitudes 02 Up close and personal with nature © Polar Latitudes/Thomas Kokta