Disappointing account of the first two-woman expedition across Antarctica, as told by the participants.
Former schoolteachers Bancroft and Arnesen both had extensive outdoor experience, including previous Antarctic trips, before they teamed up for their joint adventure. As quickly becomes clear, Antarctic exploration is no game for dilettantes or amateurs. When she recruited Arnesen, a Norwegian who had skied alone to the South Pole and across Greenland, Bancroft had already put together a team to line up corporate sponsorship and to negotiate the various governmental and other hurdles any would-be visitor to the southernmost continent must deal with. The expedition’s troubles began when the airline contracted to fly the two women to their starting point raised its price; ultimately, they arrived some two weeks late. Once on the ice, they faced a string of hardships and near-disasters. Bancroft injured a shoulder attempting to handle the sails they used to pull themselves and their sleds over the ice. An emergency signal went out without their knowledge, almost resulting in a rescue plane being sent. At the same time, they traveled with satellite phones, laptop computers, and the latest high-tech cold-weather gear (listed by brand name in an appendix). In the end, hard work and sheer stubbornness got them across the continent in a journey they saw as an inspiration for women and for the disadvantaged everywhere, even though they fell short of the coastline. Alternating their accounts with summaries by Dahle, the explorers do their best to conjure up their experience for stay-at-home readers. Unfortunately, the few moments of drama seem insufficient payoff for their ordeal.
By all rights, this should be the stuff of epic, but many readers are likely to be left cold.