#133: Polar Explorer Ann Daniels On Extreme Expeditions


Enduring temperatures as low as -53°C, walking more than 3,000 miles on ice, and swimming through arctic waters are some pretty unbelievable exploits.
But today’s guest – record-breaking Polar Explorer Ann Daniels – has made these seemingly impossible feats a reality! In 2002, Ann became the first woman in history to ski to the North and South Poles as part of all-female teams. She has sledge-hauled over 4,000 miles, completed over 10 polar expeditions and survived over 400 days on the ice. She’s been named one of the “Top 20 Great British Adventurers of all time” and described as “living proof that humans really can reach new peaks”.

During the episode, Ann talks about finding her purpose in life, completing expeditions in some of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, having triplets, and what it means to overcome fear and hard times.

Show Notes

Ann begins the podcast by introducing herself as a Polar Explorer. [2:27]

Ann shares that the biggest challenge she ever faced was having triplets, and how she felt discovering she would be a mother to three. [3:52]

Ann shares how she coped after her divorce and being a single mother. [8:48]

Ann and Spencer discuss how women are not encouraged enough to be extreme sportspeople. [15:56]

The newspaper advert Ann applied for to walk to the North Pole is explained. [17:05]

How Ann felt when selected for the team and her first trip to the Artic is discussed. [19:16]

Ann explains how she found her purpose and how that made her a better mother. [25:44]

Timelines regarding Ann’s journey towards walking to the South Pole is described. [27:11]

The hardships of completing expeditions to the corners of the earth are touched on. [30:21]

Ann explains how Antarctica is different, and how she navigated new terrain and the dark moments this involved. [31:42]

The activity and nutrition required for the expeditions is touched on. [37:43]

Reaching the scientific base and the benefits of having amenities once again is explained. [41:01]

The psychology behind what holds people back and Ann’s opinions are discussed. [44:01]

Ann’s touches on her children and their ambitions to follow in her footsteps. [48:06]

Ann shares her next steps and what her future holds. [49:11]


“I learned it was up to me to make me happy, to look after my self-worth and that nobody else is responsible for that” [13:16]

“Then I caught the dream, and thought, “good god – this is a real opportunity!” and I’m going to say it – “for somebody like me” – and I don’t believe there should be such a thing as thinking “oh, like me, its not for the likes of me, its for somebody better” – but I did”.  [18:11]

“I remember being out there, and thinking “this is just amazing”.  It spoke to my soul. I thought this is what I’m meant to do with the rest of my life, and how proud my children would be when I came home..” [26:06]

“Just biting, bitter, freezing, grim, cold, and you’re right, you can’t go in a hotel, at all, ever, it’s 24 hours a day, it’s constant and there is no escape” [30:20]

“If I think about it, I think woah, we did that and not that many females were doing it in 2000. After that, we did the whole thing to the North Pole, after the relay, and so we sort of became the first women to do both poles, the North Pole has never been repeated by a women’s team.” [42:26]

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