It's easy to compare the texts that we've studied throughout the semester, and it's difficult to view this one separate from the rest. While reading this book, I inevitably (and understandably) found myself relating this Antarctic expedition to previous Himalayan and Alaskan ones. This book had a much more personal feel than the others did, which was evident through the many stories about each of the women's individual lives and quirks. Instead of focusing primarily on details of the technical aspects of the journey, this book has chapters on the women learning to play the mouth harp and calling people back at home. These fun moments are juxtaposed with injuries and worries of not completing their journey on time. After reading this book, I feel like I know these women as people, not just as adventurers.
The connection that the women had with the rest of the world was markedly different from the other expeditions we've read about, ones where the climbers had minimal mail and radio contact or none at all. These women spoke with the media often, and received updates from their friends and family about (for example, updates about Stan's health). It's hard to believe such technology works in such a removed location. As Bancroft said, "Once again, the clarity of the phone belied the distance of the call, as well as the effort it took to make it" (150). They also had contact with a research station in the middle of their expedition, another instance where they were connected to society even during such an isolated experience. Yet the women didn't desire civilization (it was quite a drastic change from their two months only being with each other). As Arnesen said when she left the South Pole Station, "They had no idea how happy I was to escape civilization and go back to the solace of my red tunnel tent!" (160) These women are connected to other people when they make their decision to not complete the entire journey. As Bancroft said, "we had lots of other lives and investments to consider. It wasn't 'my' or 'her' trip, really. We had a responsibility to the people we'd involved - the kids, the base camp crew, our sponsors, ANI" (193-4).
Bancroft and Arnesen drew inspiration from the support that the children and teachers around the world gave them. As Bancroft said when she heard about how kids continued to follow their expedition, "Hell, I could hold out for months on the rodeo if these were the results we were getting!" (139) The elementary schooler Logan's comment to Bancroft and Arnesen that they changed his life was one of the cutest things I've read in a while. I admire the sense of perspective in this expedition, that the journey was more for other people than it was for themselves.