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British woman's South Pole world record attempt in jeopardy due to airport strikes

Emma Kelty is stuck in south Chile waiting for her equipment to arrive from Santiago. Credit: PA Wire

A British woman's attempt to set a world record by skiing the 1,400-mile South Pole is in jeopardy after airport strikes have left her without her equipment.

Emma Kelty, 42, is in south Chile waiting to board a flight to Antarctica on Thursday, but said all her gear is stuck 2,000 miles away in Santiago airport customs due to industrial action.

Santiago customs are due to reopen on Wednesday, meaning there is a slim chance everything will run on time.

If the department does not open, Ms Kelty cannot fly until November 8.

"This is not something I need before an 80-day expedition in the most brutal place in the world," Ms Kelty said.

The London-based former headteacher will tow a 90kg sled of supplies behind her for up to 12 hours a day over the course of her expedition.

She has gained five stones in weight to cope with the three-month trek, during which she will face temperatures of minus 50C.

"I have invested two years of preparation in getting to this point, and I'm shedding pounds by the minute," Ms Kelty said.

Emma Kelty is hoping to set a world record during her skiing expedition in the South Pole. Credit: Family handout/PA Wire

"If this expedition slips, I will let my two charities down (Teach Africa and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust), which would be devastating. This is my ultimate dream."

Logistical crews will pick Ms Kelty up around January 26, which means the lost time would need to be made up if delayed.

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes sent Ms Kelty a "morale booster" in the form of a good luck email.

In January, Ms Kelty was training on the South Pole route when explorer Henry Worsley died just miles short of his goal of becoming the first man to cross Antarctica unaided.

"I didn't know him personally, but we kept up with Henry's progress as he went out a couple of weeks before us," she said.

"He would have put so much effort into it, everything he had, heart and soul."

Ms Kelty is due to begin her journey at the official South Pole race start point, the Hercules Inlet.

Two Just Giving fundraising pages have been set up to receive donations for the explorer's expedition for Teach Africa and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.