Crossing Antarctica

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Will Steger had been a member of the 1986 expedition to the North Pole. As a veteran explorer, he took on the challenge of crossing the frozen continent of Antarctica, along with his International Trans-Antarctica Team. The team consisted of the American Steger, the French doctor Jean-Louis Etienne, the Soviet scientist Victor Boyarsky, the Chinese glaciologist Qin Dahe, the Japanese dog trainer Keizo Funatsu, and the British dog trainer Geoff Somers. These six men and thirty-six huskies traveled 3,741 miles from Seals Nunatak across the continent to the Soviet port of Mirnyy. It was hoped that the expedition would focus attention on the need to preserve this vast fragile continent from human exploitation. CROSSING ANTARCTICA is first and foremost a harrowing adventure story. For 220 days from July, 1989, to March, 1990, the team faced untold dangers that could prove fatal if there had not been constant diligence on the part of all involved.

The six-man team was divided into three two-man sled teams; each sled was pulled by twelve specially bred huskies. At times, the windchill reached -150 degrees. The physical and mental skills of the team were constantly being tested. Under such pressurized conditions, there were times when personal relations became frayed. The tension and monotony of the journey are presented in journal form.

Crossing Antarctica was a mammoth logistical undertaking. The expedition cost an estimated eight million dollars. On a number of occasions both men and dogs came close to being killed by the elements, and on one heartbreaking occasion one of the huskies froze to death. Steger and journalist Jon Bowermaster—who was not part of the expedition—do not let the writing get in the way of the stirring adventure. It would have been nice to have had some more background information on the team members, but on the whole CROSSING ANTARCTICA is a marvelous account of a remarkable achievement.