Ann Bancroft

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Winning Nomination

Ann is the first woman to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles. Traveling with seven men and 49 male dogs, she reached the North Pole on May 7, 1986, becoming the first known woman to ski across the ice to the North Pole. In 1994 she led the first women's expedition to the South Pole, and in 2001 she became the first woman, with Liv Arnesen, to traverse the continent of Antarctica.

Ann has changed the course of history by breaking down barriers for girls and women, particularly young women, across the globe. Through web-based programs and media, Ann Bancroft reached more than three million schoolchildren across the globe with a journey of hope, courage, and perseverance. Girls who experience Ann's story see their own possibilities and reach for their dreams.
~Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Minneapolis, MN



Runner-up Nominations

She is a great role model for Minnesota, women, and those concerned about our environment.
~Joan Hallen, Roseville, MN

She inspired a new generation of women to believe that they too can be explorers. She has also done so much to inspire young people and work with schools.
~Shana Dooley


Contents

History

(1955- )

The first woman to cross the ice to the North and South Poles

  • In 1986, Ann Bancroft drove a dogsled 1,000 miles from the Northwest Territories in Canada to the North Pole. As the only female member of the Steger International Polar Expedition, she became the first known woman to cross the ice to the North Pole.
  • In 1992, she led the first American women's east-to-west crossing of Greenland.
  • In 1992-1993, she led the American Women's Expedition to the South Pole, a 67-day trek of 660 miles on skis by four women. It was the first all-women expedition to cross the ice to the South Pole, and Bancroft became the first woman to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles.
  • In 2001, she and Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen became the first women in history to ski and sail across Antarctica's landmass-a 94-day, 1,717-mile trek.

These accomplishments are testament to Bancroft's tenacity, courage, and sheer physical abilities. But they also testify to the fact that one person can change perceptions of what women can accomplish. Through web-based programs, young women worldwide have been able to follow Bancroft on her expeditions. "My motivation often comes from the students that follow the adventure," Bancroft writes. "On my last expedition to Antarctica, thoughts of kids all over the nation following us inspired me on tough days to stay at it."

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Ann also used a "Minnesota Original" on one or all of her polar trips. Invented by longtime Winter Camping teacher, Brother Finbar McMullen, FSC, of St. Mary's University in Winona, MN, it is known as the Finbar Hood This insulated hood is used primarily for sleeping. Its cowl and arm straps allow the camper to cinch the mummy bag around the neck, thus freeing them to move the head freely while sleeping without losing the air hole of the bag. This feature also prevents the camper from breathing into the bag which causes a buildup of ice crystals within it, adding dramatically to its weight. An important goal for trekkers is to minimize the weight they carry.

Brother Finbar has invented many other camping tools including a lightweight, foldable campfire grate and a firestarting hose (bellows?) Brother Finbar currently resides at the Christian Brothers' Residence at SMU in Winona. He is a good friend of Ann Bancroft. He is a true Minnesota Original. Winona Daily News Article, Jan 2007

by Mary Frances Gebhart, Minneapolis resident and St. Mary's alum


she's a cool person.
-N. Furfaro, 14 wayzata, mn

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