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No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica    by Liv Arnesen, Ann Bancroft & Cheryl Dahle order for
No Horizon Is So Far
by Liv Arnesen
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Much more than the typical tale of explorers' adventures, No Horizon Is So Far is the account of two almost middle-aged women daring to live their dream, and inspiring millions of schoolchildren along the way. Norwegian Liv Arnesen and American Ann Bancroft are veteran Arctic explorers who grew up reading about men like Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott who had explored Antarctica in the early 20th century. But where were the stories of brave adventurous women? By the time they met each other in the late 1990s, each had successfully conducted previous Arctic or Antarctic expeditions and both were dedicated to pushing their limits. For them 'it's about connecting with the forces that give one's life meaning. That which one values above all'.

However, no all-female team had ever completely crossed Antarctica. Soon after they met the two realized that they were 'sister souls' who could travel together in Antarctica. Both knew that the 'appeal of remote wilderness is the solitude, the ability to be with one's own thoughts'. They were 'enchanted with the idea of facing the same test (as the earlier male explorers), eager to see what it would bring out in us'. Ann had learned from her previous expedition to the South Pole that financing was a huge barrier to surmount, especially for an all-female trip. She had discovered 'the extent to which economics is a barrier to women to live out our potential'. For this trip, she and Liv assembled a diverse and enthusiastic team, but still had to face daunting obstacles in raising money.

From the start, they wanted to somehow involve children in their trip, and to motivate them to live their own dreams. Ann had suffered greatly with dyslexia when she was young, and wanted children to realize how much they could achieve despite individual limitations. Taking advantage of new technology such as GPS units and satellite phones, they developed a curriculum where children could follow their trip and even periodically talk to them in real time. Eventually they linked up with three million schoolchildren in 46 countries for their expedition in late 2000/early 2001. At the end of the book, there are numerous glowing quotes from teachers whose students were part of the project. Unlike in many other Arctic trips, the women decided not to use dogs. Instead they used skis and wore harnesses attached to sails, so they could sail over the snow. At least that worked part of the time, but when the topography got rough or the wind died down, they had to push their heavy sleds. The body aches just from reading about the physical challenges.

No Horizon is So Far is an incredible tale of risks and bravery, lavishly furnished with color photos. Even more rewarding than vicariously enjoying their trip from the warm haven of one's sofa is reading of the lessons learned. One life lesson they share is that 'we are so tiny in this universe, we each have to find our own way ... our own steps determine our path, not the expectations of the world ... Ann and I have gotten through our own lives by making it up as we go along, taking steps that feel right in our hearts'. The Arnesen/Bancroft expedition inspired countless schoolchildren when it took place. Now the book encourages readers to live their own dreams.

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