I’m not sure why, but being a few texts into the class I thought I had figured out a pattern in the narratives (how easily we grow accustomed to things), just to have Arnesen and Bancroft’s story shake everything up for me. This narrative and expedition were both significantly different than the mountaineering stories we’ve read so far, showing a significantly different type of adventure and hardship—one that emphasizes endurance and physical/mental strain instead of the chain of high-pressure crises that the climbers we’ve read all faced. This different type of adventure offers some interesting contrasts to the others, especially in the ways that Ann and Liv lived during their crossing.
While neither type of terrain could be considered accommodating, Antarctica seemed like a less threatening temporary home then the mountains. Of course frostbite remained a concern, but gone was the threat of being buried alive by an avalanche while sleeping—allowing for significantly more peace of mind. Another major difference I noticed was the trekkers’ access to technology, as well as the free time necessary to use it. Of course, this difference may have been more related to the contemporary setting of the book rather than the terrain, but it seemed to make a big difference in the way they functioned. All the other expeditions we’ve discussed have been complete retreats into the most desolate and wild corners of the earth, leaving the adventurers completely disconnected from their home lives and cultures. While Liv and Ann’s expedition covered some of the most desolate territory on the planet, their constant ability to communicate with their base in Minneapolis must have been a major boost to their morale, just like Liv’s notes from her husband. To be fair, I’m assuming this difference in part based on my own understanding and knowledge of technology as a communicative tool, so maybe it didn’t have a huge affect on their mentality—I’m certainly going to ask Bancroft about it later today to see what she says.