Listen From the archive: Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen from Antarctica
Dec 29, 2000
Listen MPR 50: Polar explorer Ann Bancroft on All Things Considered
This segment originally aired in December 2000.
In December 2000, explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft were attempting to become the first women to cross the continent of Antarctica under their own power.
They were using skis and para-sails to move 250-pound supply sleds across nearly 2,000 miles. On Dec. 29, as they approached the South Pole, Bancroft spoke from the bottom of the world with All Things Considered host Lorna Benson.
"I think you're experiencing chiller temperatures than we are right now," Bancroft said. "We've got 24 hours of sunlight, we woke up to -24 Celsius (-11.2 Fahrenheit) this morning."
The constant sun kept the travelers warm and because Antarctica is technically a desert, Arnesen and Bancroft didn't need to worry about frost covering their tents.
"I always tell people this is the best kind of winter camping you can have," she said.
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The pair was dependent on consistent winds to get them where they needed to go, but near the end of their journey that element was what stopped them in their tracks.
"I think our best mileage day has been close to about 65 miles in one day," Bancroft said. "I think we did on that day about a 10-hour sail and a slow and steady wind."
Bancroft and Arnesen made it to the South Pole and across the Antarctica land mass, becoming the first women to accomplish that feat. They had hoped to cross the 500-mile Ross Ice Shelf as well, but the wind didn't cooperate.
On Feb. 18, 2001, they were picked up by a ski plane which took them to an ice boat so they could get out before the weather made travel impossible.