Anyone who’s taken a long camping trip knows just how much work goes into the planning and organizing. There’s food and clothes to pack for every contingency, transportation to arrange, routes to map, visas to obtain, cameras to pack… But what if you’re organizing a 3,741-mile international expedition across the coldest place in the world, portions of which have never been crossed by human beings, areas so remote they are unreachable by aircraft, should anything go wrong? That was my challenge.
I agreed to be the executive director of the 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, led by explorers Will Steger and Jean-Louis Etienne before I realized just how hard it was going to be. We spent three years and $11 million making sure that this first-ever un-mechanized crossing of Antarctica was successful. Our purpose? Antarctica is a continent dedicated to scientific research, managed by international consensus. Every thirty years, the Antarctic Treaty is open for review. Our goal was to build public awareness and ensure the protection of the continent. And we succeeded. Over 10 million students around the world followed the expedition and we were able to visit with key world leaders to encourage the adoption of a mining ban.
2015 is the 25th anniversary of this historic expedition – still the longest in Antarctic history. In celebration, I’ve decided to tell my story about just how we pulled the epic 1990 expedition off. Think South: How We Got Six Men and Forty Dogs Across Antarctica is not your typical adventure travel story. Yes, it is all about dogsleds, blizzards, crevasses, lost explorers, ships and broken airplanes, but its focus is on the colorful personalities behind the scenes that made the expedition happen - all the preparations for that mega-camping trip.
In addition, a full gallery of expedition photographs, videos and a living Antarctic bibliography is available at http://www.cathydemoll.com/thinksouth .
Contact: cathydemoll.com Twitter:@cdemoll
(Photo 1: The 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition encountered temperatures lower than -100F and winds up to 200 mph as the length of their route required them to encounter Antarctic winter at either end ©Will Steger)
(Photo 2: Men and dogs landed in Antarctica on a Soviet Illyushin 76, the first time this Soviet craft had been allowed to land in the United States, and the first time such a large aircraft had landed on the very small King George Island. ©Will Steger)
(Photo 3: The expedition consisted of three sleds and up to 36 dogs at a time, carrying food, equipment and tools for the seven-month expedition. Resupply caches were deposited every 200 miles a year in advance and additional, emergency supplies were delivered by small Twin Otter when weather permitted. ©Will Steger)
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Editor's note: Cathy's book has just been published. If you're interested, you can buy hard copy or Kindle version of it at Amazon