Kent Law Clinic solicitor Sheona York spent her vacation completing an expedition in the Antarctic this summer, following in the footsteps of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Sheona, an immigration and asylum specialist, is also an accomplished rock climber and mountaineer with 30 years of experience amassed from climbing in the UK and across the world.
This year she joined an Australian commercial expedition to mark the 100 year anniversary of the final leg of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. In 1917, Shackleton was forced to sail 800 miles with five men to seek help from a remote whaling station in Stromness on the island of South Georgia while his remaining crew of 22 men were left stranded on a tiny rocky beach on Elephant Island.
Sheona began her own epic journey in Ushuaia, on the southern tip of South America where she sailed in a Russian boat with a Russian crew, 50 passengers and 10 expedition staff to the Antarctic peninsular. From there, following in Shackleton’s footsteps, the expedition crossed the Weddell Sea to Elephant Island and then on to the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Sheona was one of only six experienced climbers chosen to make the two-day traverse of the South Georgia mountains.
After the gruelling voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia, Shackleton’s small crew had run out of fresh water and were forced to land on the west coast of the island. To reach the whaling station on the east coast, Shackleton had to cross the unmapped mountainous interior. One hundred years later, Sheona’s team followed in Shackleton’s footsteps across crevasses and high passes to reach Fortuna Bay and a final 7km hike to Stromness.
Sheona is also a Reader at Kent and is involved in teaching, research and policy work.