Twenty years ago yesterday one of the most amazing and ambitious expeditions to Antarctica, or just about anywhere else for that matter, came to an end, when a team of six explorers, from six different countries, completed a 3741 mile journey across that continent. To commemorate that anniversary, Jon Bowermaster posted an interesting article on the expedition.
Jon co-authored a book about the journey with polar explorer Will Steger, who was a part of the team. The book is called Crossing Antarctica, and it was recently re-released to coincide with this 20th anniversary. To get an idea of what this expedition was like, it lasted 221 days, beginning and ending in the Antarctic winter. The explorers traveled by dog sled, which would never happen again, as a year later, the Antarctic Treaty was amended to ban the use of dogs there. Jon also points out that the cost of the expedition was was in the neighborhood of $12 million, a budget that isn’t likely to be approached again soon.
Over the course of their Antarctic adventure, the team endured amazing challenges. The temperatures were generally around -40ºF, the survived a 60-day long blizzard, and they were constantly faced with supply issues. But in spite of all of that, they successfully crossed the most inhospitable environment on the planet. Their story is one of endurance, determination, and an adventurous spirit, as I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to roll out of their sleeping bags and warm tents for yet another day out on that barren and featureless polar desert. The men that made this journey were true explorers, and their real life adventure goes beyond most fiction.
20 years on, this is still an amazing accomplishment.