Crossing Antarctica Marks 20th Anniversary
by Jeff Blumenfeld
It was 20 years ago last month – March 1990 – that Will Steger and five international polar explorers completed what will forever be the most audacious crossing of Antarctica. Their Trans-Antarctica Expedition will last in Antarctica history for a variety of reasons: Its length and duration (3,741 miles in 221 days, requiring that it start in winter and end in winter). Because it was the last expedition by dog (dogs were outlawed the following year by an amendment to the Antarctic Treaty). And its expense (upwards of $12 million). A lot has changed in the two decades since – international politics and economies have shifted, new technologies invented and boomed, the human population added one billion, says writer and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster.
Bowermaster is co-author with Will Steger of the original book Crossing Antarctica, and now its 20th anniversary edition published by Menasha Ridge Press. He writes on his Web site, “… when I think of that grueling, seven-month-long expedition perhaps the biggest change has been to the continent itself. At the time, the impacts of global climate change were just beginning to be talked about and mostly in scientific circles. Today the ice shelf where Trans-Antarctica started, on a very cold July day in 1989, no longer exists.”
Bowermaster continues, “Part of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, it was sundered in 2002 by the massive breakup of Antarctica’s largest shelf due to warming sea and air temperatures.
Steger’s recent work has focused on educating students and policy leaders alike on the causes, effects and solutions to global climate change. His organization is planning the 5th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, Aug. 12, at the University of Minnesota Continuing Education & Conference Center in St. Paul (www.globalwarming101.com).
Bowermaster has been back to Antarctica two dozen times since that initial introduction 20 years ago. His recently completed high-def film, Terra Antarctica, documents a six-week long exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula by sea kayak. (www.jonbowermaster.com).