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CNN Today

Two Women Attempt Trek Across Antarctica on Foot

Aired December 19, 2000 - 2:24 p.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We actually jumped out of the story right there because we have an incredible opportunity. For the first time since Liv and Ann left on their journey, they're able to call by phone and we're able to talk with them live here. The first time they've done a live interview via phone from the middle of Antarctica.

Ann, are you with us?

ANN BANCROFT, ANTARCTIC EXPLORER: I'm with you. Good to hear your voice.

KAGAN: It's great to hear your voice. How is it going down there?

BANCROFT: Well, it's going really well. We've been at this now for -- oh, boy, I think this the 36th day, and we've had some trials and tribulations. But we're feeling really good today. We've covered a lot of miles in the last few days sailing just feeling like we're on target and we're zoning in on the pole.

KAGAN: Now, I know you've had a little bit of delay because of weather. You had to start the journey about 10 days later than you planned. Are able to make up the time and the distance?

BANCROFT: We're, you know, we had hoped, I think, to reach the pole around Christmas or New Year's. Now, I think our sight's just shortly after New Year's. So, we're -- we, you know, can't make up quite that kind of time that we lost sitting in Capetown waiting for the weather to clear on that blue ice runway. But we're not as tardy as we had once thought coming up the glacier when we were dragging those heavy sleds.

KAGAN: But you still think you're still on goal, you're still going to try to make the entire way?

LIV ARNESEN, ANTARCTIC EXPLORER: Oh, definitely, we are. We'll make the whole way.

KAGAN: Is that Liv talking to us, too?

ARNESEN: Yes. That's Liv.

KAGAN: Hi, Liv. It's good to have you on the phone with us as well. Other than the time delay, what has been the biggest challenge that you women have faced so far?

ARNESEN: In the beginning, we had really bad weather when we climbed the glacier. Both huge crevices and it was really bad visibility. That was the hardest we have had so far. Or else it was actually waiting for the wind. We had six days without wind. That was pretty hard days for us.

KAGAN: Ann, I also understand that you had a shoulder injury. How is your shoulder doing?

BANCROFT: It's -- those six days sitting in one, you know, relatively stationary place waiting for the wind was in some ways a godsend because it gave me just that little edge to start healing, which is very difficult to do on a trip like this. And I feel it at the end of the day, but taking it very, you know, very easy. When I'm sailing, trying to use my other arm more, and I've got a great nurse mate who throws the hot water bottle at me every night just to make sure that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

KAGAN: I know a lot of people think of Antarctica as this giant flat piece of ice and I know that when you started you started at sea level. Give us a little education here on the kind of elevation that you've had to climb.

BANCROFT: Well, we've come up close to -- we've been over 11,000 feet. We've been descending in the last four days very, very slightly, and we watch it very intently every day because we're going to also have to go back up toward the pole again. And of course, when you've got these heavy sleds behind you, you are very aware of the ups and downs.

Today, the topography was just extraordinary. It's so hard to even describe to you the vastness of what we're seeing and with the lighting. You know, we've got 24 hours of sunlight. We are seeing with the shadows that the light cast these undulating sort of rolling hills, almost. It's really hard to describe. Maybe the Serengeti plain, something else that's so vast, you know, without any unencumbered sight. It's just extraordinary. You just -- it would blow your socks away, Daryn.

KAGAN: Well, we look forward to seeing those pictures. Folks who are just learning your story, and we only have about a minute left here, are going to wonder what you're eating, how much you're eating and what you're wearing to stay warm?

ARNESEN: Well, for breakfast we have cereals. We eat about 4,000 calories per day. During the day we have chocolate and peanuts and sports drink. And when we come into the tents in the afternoon we have soups and some potato chips and we have dried food for dinner. Two fish dishes and one pasta dish and one meat dish.

KAGAN: And what are you wearing to keep warm?

ARNESEN: We actually -- we work very hard during the day so we keep warm, but when you're sailing, you have a down vest or a down jacket. Or else you just -- when we pull we have Gortex wind stopper and long johns and ordinary underwear -- sports underwear.

KAGAN: We're also looking at the screen right now. We see a picture of your tent as it's set up. Some people wondering what's your tent made of and how is that warm enough to protect you while you sleeping out there on the ice.

ARNESEN: We actually, we not warming up the tent. But we have sun 24 hours a day. And right now the sun shining on our red little tent and it's quite comfortable in the tent. And when it's cold, we use sleeping bags to keep warm. We have down sleeping bags and they are really warm.

KAGAN: A good reminder, you're making this trek right now because it is summertime. Tell us the kind of conditions and temperatures that you're facing. .

ARNESEN: I'm into Celsius. We are about minus-35, -30 Celsius. I'm not into Fahrenheit, sorry. Minus-30 is about the same as Fahrenheit. So, it's a nice winter temperature, even at this time of year.

KAGAN: And finally, this is lot of togetherness for two people, for two women to be together 24 hours a day. How are you guys getting along?

ARNESEN: Well, we are getting well along. But our days are really busy. Like today we have been sailing for 9 1/2 hours. And we -- it changes in the stops every hour, then it's my day in the kitchen today. I'm melting water and doing things and Ann is writing in her diary and doing other things. So, we are doing well. We are so far not -- not killing each other.

KAGAN: Well, that's good news. You continue the good work. I know that when you set up your tent and you make camp it becomes the busy part of the day.

So, we're going to let both of you go, wish you well, and hopefully you'll be calling us back on a regular basis so we can share your story not just here in the U.S. but also with the people who are following you all around the world.

That was Liv Arneson and Ann Bancroft, actually calling us from the middle of Antartica as they to make their history-making trek, being the first two women to cross that continent on foot. It is an incredible feat, a difficult feat.



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