Rosie Stancer is preparing to become the first female to walk solo to the North Pole. In 2003 she became the second British woman to walk alone to the South Pole without any support or resupplies; smashing the previous speed records. She wants to be the first woman in the world to have conquered both geographic poles alone.
Driving towards a rugby field in Colchester, I see in the distance a petite female figure in a harness; she appears to be pulling along a Mitsubushi truck. As I draw nearer I notice a military-looking man, shouting at her and pointing to an adjacent running track where tractor and lorry tyres are scattered.
This is the training ground of Rosie Stancer, affectionately known as The Tinkernator due to her petite frame and indestructible, machine-like determination.
I’m no giant but I seem to tower over the 5’3” middle aged polar explorer; who after lifting and flipping a tractor tyre as though tossing a bouquet at a wedding, thrusts a welcoming hand towards me.
“Rosie?” I ask.
“Welcome to my arctic playground” she laughs.
We head for the grandstand and a seat and I ask why she wants to do such a crazy thing. After all, she’s a mother, a wife, and could die on the ice.
“Because it’s important, there is much to learn and many can benefit. I don’t believe in boundaries either in my head or imposed by others. The expedition will leave a legacy of inspiration and learning. It will help lift the lid off the boxes people allow themselves to get trapped in and encourage them to look out and beyond their immediate confines.”
Rosie, how do you face danger and overcome fear? “Deep inner reserves, we all have it.” She replies without blinking. “You have to be able to want it and access that wealth of strength. The key is passion and a belief in your end goal. That belief can empower anyone.”
Can you see a parallel between the qualities and values you possess and what women need to succeed in other male dominated roles?
“Yes, I am trespassing in a male territory one normally associates with brute strength, height and beards. Yes, I am small woman and a minority in the polar expedition world.”
“I’ve seen too many expeditions fail because of an all-conquering male, military approach which can be as blinkering as it is dangerous.”
“In a polar region it is important not to forget the skills women are most commonly known for; for example multitasking, flexibility and intuition. The ability to listen, even as a leader; is also a vital skill.”
What drives you to succeed?
“It’s what I am passionate about and a lot of the expedition is driven by physical and psychological curiosity. I carry our research for Essex University and also report back on the effects of climate change. I am not a scientist nor a politician; I am there as a vehicle to do the research which few others can in such an extreme environment.”
How do you fund such an expedition?
“Sponsors, and I never have enough. There are a handful of companies and brands that recognise that what we’re doing is important and will make a difference. My sponsors will be part of history and so recognise they too will make an impact and leave an imprint by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Do you have a message to women generally?
“Do what you are passionate about, despite any fear of failure – that’s what courage is all about. What is failure? Everyone knows you learn more from mistakes than successes. Think about it, Sir Ernest Shackleton never made it to a pole, can he be described as a failure? No, why not? Because of the legacy he left.”
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