Bancroft-Arnesen Expedition Reaches South Pole

adventure guide: alta/snowbird

South Pole, Antarctica, Jan. 18, 2001--Explorers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen have been struggling with poor wind conditions and frigid temps for over two months while crossing Antarctica using nordic skis, sleds, and sails. The two teachers are attempting to become the first women to cross Antarctica, a distance of 3,840 kilometers (2,386 miles).

At 4 a.m. New Zealand time on Jan. 16, with dental floss patched sails and meager rations, the women reached the South Pole. They were happy to drink warm coffee and eat eggs and hearty soup in the confines of the South Pole Research Station.

After initial disappointment with their progress, Ann says, "We're thrilled. We had our all time high mileage day a few days ago." They plan to resume the journey after resting for 24 hours and restocking their food and supplies. "We're very skinny, but we're very happy," added Bancroft.

The women are looking forward to the second half of their journey. Their remaining trek is 1,402 kilometers (871.2 Miles). From the South Pole they will ascend Titan Dome at 3,005 meters (9,858.8 feet). From the summit they will ski down to Shackleton Glacier and through the Transarctic Mountains, finally crossing the Ross Ice Shelf to McMurdo.

Bancroft and Arnesen hope to complete their journey in McMurdo in the middle of February. They will be met by a ship in port amidst media hullabaloo and pending speaking engagements. Anything should be easy to confront following several months of -34C (-30F) temps and 160 km/hr (100 mph) winds.