Reaching the South Pole

This month in Minnesota history

Photo by USGS Unsplash

January 14, 1993 marked skier Ann Bancroft‘s arrival to the South Pole. Having grown up in the Mendota Heights neighborhood of St. Paul, Bancroft described her family as “risk-takers.” She lived up to her claim when she became the first woman to ski across both polar ice caps to reach the North and South poles. To reach the South Pole, she led the American Women’s Expedition (made up of herself and three other women), 660 miles over the course of 67 days. The previous year, Bancroft had led the first American women’s east to west crossing of Greenland, and in 2001, she and Norwegian Liv Arnesen became the first women to ski the 1,717 miles across Antarctica.

Ann donated a number of artifacts to the Minnesota Historical Society including a button, wristwatch, articles of clothing, a pair of skis, and a custom-made sleeping bag.

“The Bancroft collection represents a significant addition to the Society holdings,” says curator Adam Scher. “Ann’s remarkable achievements as an explorer and educator have inspired young people throughout the world.”

Bancroft aims to inspire other young girls to achieve their goals like she did. For this reason, in 1997 she established the Minneapolis-based Ann Bancroft Foundation, whose mission is to create “a world where every girl has a chance to live her wild dream and reach her full potential.”

Minnesota Historical Society Staff