"For me, an expedition is a work of art expressed on a canvas of snow, air and time," says Liv Arnesen, who in 2001 became one of the first women to cross the landmass of Antarctica on foot. In temperatures as cold as 35 degrees below zero, the Norwegian Arnesen, along with Minnesota native Ann Bancroft, walked, skied and ice-sailed for nearly three months across 1,700 miles of terrain riddled with rotten ice and hidden crevasses. No Horizon Is So Far is the inspiring true story of their ice-bound dream. Traveling in a place where temperatures plummet so low that "boiling water thrown into the air freezes instantly," Arnesen and Bancroft shared their extraordinary experiences with more than 3 million school children from Houston to Taipei via a website, e-mail messages and satellite phone calls. Students followed the two former schoolteachers as they raced to finish the trek before the onset of the Antarctic winter, when round-the-clock daylight turns to endless stretches of darkness.
The Antarctica the women experience is more than just a desolate mass of white at the bottom of the world. It's a wondrous landscape with "an endless horizon that shifts as you travel uphill or down. Sometimes it's above your head, or at your midsection, or beneath your feet, but you never catch it." Although Bancroft and Arnesen tried to cross the Ross Ice Shelf at the end of their transcontinental trek, treacherous weather conditions wouldn't permit it. Following the heartbreaking decision to cut their trip short, the two placed a phone call to an elementary school class in Minnesota, where a young boy's words put their deep disappointment in perspective. "I just wanted to tell you that both of you have been real role models to me," he said. "I have a hard time in school, and I just used to feel like there were lots of things that I could never do. And now that you two guys have done this, I see that I can do anything I put my mind to. You changed my life." Allison Block is a writer and editor in La Jolla, California.