Teachers Ski the South Pole


Oslo, Norway, Feb. 15 (AP by Doug Mellgren)--Headed for the South Pole, teachers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be far from their classrooms _ but not far from their students.

Arnesen, a Norwegian, and Bancroft, an American, will be on their own for the planned 100-day, 2,400-mile ski trip to the South Pole and back again. But they plan to share their daily experiences with students and others on the Internet.

``We want to make it real for them,'' Bancroft said Monday from near Oslo.

If the women, who are both veteran polar adventurers, succeed, theirs will be the first all-female crossing of the Antarctic.

In 1994, Arnesen, 45, became the first woman to ski alone and unaided to the South Pole after a 50-day trek. Bancroft, 43, was the first woman to ski to both the North and the South Poles.

So they know what to expect as they plan to set off from Queen Mauds Land in the Antarctic in early November: hunger, deadly crevasses, storms, steep climbs and camping out at freezing temperatures.

In 1997, Norwegian Boerge Ousland was the first person to cross the Antarctic on skis with no outside assistance. It took him 64 days.

Arnesen and Bancroft's route is roughly 620 miles longer and they will have to deal with keeping up correspondence and fielding questions along the way.

``What is really different is the educational aspect,'' said Arnesen, who has taught for 20 years. Bancroft, of St. Paul, Minn., has taught for 17 years.

With help from the U.S. National Center for Health Education, the two teachers plan to use lightweight computer and transmitting equipment to share their experiences on the Internet.

The women expect to pull 265-pound sleds _ roughly twice their weight _ so training has included dragging car tires in the summer and long ski treks pulling heavy loads in winter.

Despite physical challenges and dangers, both said the worst thing may be finding the energy to write interesting messages after an exhausting day on skis.

The two plan to pull everything needed for the trek to the South Pole and pick up fresh supplies for the trip to Ross Island on the other side of the frozen continent.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press