Manon Ossevoort, adventurer, theatre maker and mom – or Tractor Girl as she is known by now – has made a trip that defies the word kickass. She started 10 years ago with the goal of driving a Tractor from Terschelling (an Island in the North of Holland) to the South Pole.In four years time she drove her tractor across Europe and Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. Along the way she performed a self-enacted theatre show around her tractor and collected the dreams of the people she met. Her ultimate goal was to build a snowman on the South Pole with the collected dreams of the world in it’s belly.
But once she reached the South of South-Africa behind schedule, she missed the boat that was supposed to take her to Antarctica to complete her mission. She got stuck as she had no other way or funds of getting her Tractor across the ocean to Antarctica. She went home to Holland, had a baby, but never gave up on her dream.
[Read the full story Africa story here]
Massey Ferguson Tractors
Then years later Massey Ferguson got light of Ossevoort’s inspirational story and decided to step in. Massey Ferguson is a big tractor manufacturer who In 1958 equipped Sir Edmund Hillary and his New Zealand team with Ferguson TE20 tractors on their Antarctic overland journey to the South Pole. Now they decided to support Tractor Girl Manon Ossevoort. Under the name #Antarctica2 and #believeinit they made it possible for Manon to go to the South Pole on a Massey Ferguson tractor.
They provided her with an MF 5610 tractor specially equipped to handle the snow, ice and the harsh temperatures. The tractor was hooked up to a couple of trailers to carry all the necessary fuel and spare tires.
After almost three years of preparations (mainly in Iceland) she set off on her tractor at the end of November 2014 from the Russia’s Novo base at the Antarctic coast with the Geographical South Pole as her destination.
Tractor Girl was joined on this final leg of her years-long journey by a mother-daughter team of arctic explorers from Canada, a mechanic from France, a videographer and a logistics coordinator from the UK.
On the ice they encountered the notorious Sastrugi – waves of solid ice – so hard-packed that the expedition didn’t even leave a footprint. They had to deal with solar storms that took all of their communications equipment down. Not to speak of the freezing cold temperatures.
After 16 days of driving at speeds between 0.5 and 6 miles per hour due to the extreme conditions she covered 2,500 km on the antarctic ice. On the 9th of December she reached the South Pole. “It’s very emotional. I’m very happy,” was her first reaction over satellite phone shortly after she arrived at the Pole.
“I am so happy that this seemingly impossible story has become reality. From the moment I set foot on the snow and started to drive, that grin has not been getting off my face. For all those 16 days I saw only white plains, it was pretty surreal. At first I had to climb a mountain (to reach the Antarctic high altitude plains) and then for days on an end could just see an endless white plain. It’s like driving on a frozen ocean. And because it is so bumpy it feels like I have been riding a 2,500km long rodeo”.
Once she arrived at the Geographical South Pole she was greeted by the residents of the South Pole. “There is a US base and they came out to greet me, which is quite special.”
She stayed for a day at the South Pole before embarding on the 2,500km drive back to the Antarctic coast. “I cannot just leave my “trekkertje” (Dutch for tractor) there of course! It has to come back with me”
The journey back was a lot easier. “The track that the tractor has left is frozen. It will be easy to drive.” Manon said.
Building a Snowman with the dreams of the World
Although Ossevoort’s intention had been to leave the thousands of dreams she had collected in the belly of a snowman on the South Pole she changed her mind when she arrived there.
“ I decided that was not the best place. There is a US research base there and every day there are a lot of people, vehicles and even aircrafts. Not exactly a quiet place for a snowman. Therefore I felt the need to keep the dreams a little longer with me until I find a suitable spot. Somewhere on they way back, in the middle of the white frozen landscape of Antarctica, I will find a place in this exceptionally beautiful continent and build the snowman that will contain the ‘dreams of the world.”
So they embarked on the way back to their starting point carrying those dreams in the tractor. On the 28th day of the expedition they reached their starting point, the Novo base located on the edge of Antarctica. In accomplishing the mission, the MF 5610 has become the first standard farm tractor equipped with tyres to reach the Geographic South Pole overland.
And there, finally – almost 13 years after Ossevoort had embarked on her journey to drive a tractor to the end of the world – she found a suitable spot to build her dream snowman that contains all the dreams of the people she met along the way!
An inspiring kickass story that shows you can get anything done as long as you #believeinit