Polar expeditions can be dangerous. How do you ensure your team's safety?
I manage risk by looking at the possible outcomes. If I’m on the ice and I’m about to cross a difficult area I ask myself if I can look my children in the eye and be okay with making the decision to cross. It stops me being reckless and taking needless risks. If I can't, I don’t do it, and I'll look for another way even if it’s a much longer way around.
If I decide to take the risk I'll assess what could go wrong and how to mitigate it. What to do if things go wrong, and how to get out of the situation.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get where you are?
We all make sacrifices every day. For me, time away from family, a secure monthly income, and of course the physical and mental pain while carrying out my job on the ice are the main ones.
It's not as big a sacrifice, but I also don't like having to put on weight before I’m due to go on expedition. It’s necessary, but like most females on the planet I don’t like having an extra 20 pounds added to my usual frame!
The need to train every day is also tough and as I get older it's only getting tougher.
How do you cope with the physical demands of expeditions?
I have to train hard for many months before an expedition to prepare my body. Then, while on an expedition it's all about routine. That means eating high calorie meals each morning - whether I feel like it or not - and drinking at least a litre of fluid before I leave the tent.
I also have to be strict about how long I ski for, take breaks to eat and drink regularly, stop for the day before complete exhaustion sets in, and again be sure to eat and take on enough fluid each night.
Wearing sunscreen is also super important, as well as avoiding unnecessary risks and holding as many positive thoughts as possible.
What’s your next challenge?
When I first ventured onto the ice the Arctic ocean was full of multi-year ice, where it hadn’t melted completely in the summer and got thicker and thicker each winter. Now, the multi-year ice has all but disappeared and there are only a few small pockets of it around Greenland, Ellesmere and Russia.
With the help of NASA and The European Space Agency, my next mission is to go and find the multi-year ice and document it until it disappears forever. My team will collect samples and then add tracking beacons to the ice so the scientists can track the ice and know when it finally breaks up for good.
After that I'm taking on a project of Alan Chambers and Wayne Hoyle. It will be a crossing of Antarctica from Vahsel Bay, where Shackleton's ship was entombed in ice, collecting snow samples along the route to test for micro plastics, which, as it’s a landmass covered in ice, can only have been taken there by the wind. Again, my team will be working with scientists who specialise in this field.
Described by The Daily Telegraph as one of the top 20 Great British Adventurers of all times. Ann is regularly asked to speak on leadership, motivation and overcoming challenges in an ever changing world. As a Polar guide and leader of four major scientific Arctic surveys, Ann is living proof that good leadership, teamwork and a positive mental attitude does make a difference to the success of a team. Check out her website for more information.