Adelaide woman could become first in history to complete explorers’ grand slam

Image: Ketie Sarah


She is currently in intensive training for her next penultimate challenge in an attempt to reach a milestone that has been 12 years in the making.

The adrenaline junkie from Adelaide will fly off on Tuesday to Santiago in Chile, before setting off on an 111-kilometre trek to the South Pole.

Dropped off by a plane with seven other strangers, she hopes to average 20 kilometres a day and finish the trek within a week.

She said it won’t be too dangerous… hopefully.

“It’s the weather and the remoteness, so if you’re down on the ice and you’re a long way from anywhere and something does go wrong and you injure yourself, I mean you could be a klutz and fall over your own skis, twist, break something,” she said.

“Then if the weather has come in and they can’t come and get you out, then absolutely, that’s a danger.”

Adelaide's Katie Sarah during a climb in Chile
Foto: Katie Sarah 

Should Ms Sarah successfully negotiate the trek, a similar venture to the North Pole awaits her next year.

If that is also successfully negotiated she will become the first woman to complete what’s known as the “Grand Slam Seven-Seven”, that is climbing the seven tallest mountains and seven tallest volcanoes on each continent, plus the last degree to both poles.

But the Adelaide resident was pretty keen to talk down the looming world-first that began in 2006.

“Different locations, different people, it’s all about the journey and the experience of each peak, rather than ticking boxes,” she said.

“The lists give me something to work towards, I’m very goal-oriented.”

But when pushed further, Ms Sarah did agree that her achievement could spur other women on.

“I honestly believe that almost all of what I’ve done, there’s no reason why other women couldn’t or wouldn’t or shouldn’t do it so, if others are inspired to go and climb some mountains, that would be wonderful,” she said.

The charity worker and adventure travel organiser said climbing Mount Everest was among many challenges on her way to the world mark.

“It’s a high peak, it’s a long trip, and with the altitude yes, it’s certainly a tough trip, but others, they’ve all thrown up their own challenges,” she said.

Adelaide's Katie Sarah on Mount Everest
Foto: Katie Sarah 

Addicted to the adrenaline game

More than a decade of training and climbing has put her body under immense pressure.

But an ankle injury picked up in a rock climbing accident in the Adelaide Hills has been her worst injury, with a strong team a catalyst in keeping everything sound.

Adelaide's Katie Sarah during a climb at Aconcagua
Foto: Katie Sarah 

“It’s been pretty good, I do have a team of medical experts, physio and an orthopaedic surgeon, he fixed my ankle for me and all that sort of thing,” she said.

“But all in all it’s really very good considering how much work I’ve put all of it through, how much thrashing my body gets, it’s really holding up.”

Ms Sarah is quite literally addicted to the adrenaline game.

Once she finishes her South Pole trek, she hopes to run the route of the Antarctic Ice Marathon before the plane picks her up again — just because she can.

And while she might have passed the half-century mark and be about to set a new world mark, Ms Sarah said she had no plans to slow down after next year.

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