1989-90 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition: Team Reunites After 20 Years

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1989-90 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition: Team Reunites After 20 Years

November 23, 2010, Minneapolis, MN — The Will Steger Foundation is celebrating the 20th Anniversary Reunion of Will Steger’s Trans-Antarctica Expedition, December 10-11, 2010.

On March 3, 1990, a team of six men from six different countries and their 42 sled dogs completed the first-ever dogsled crossing of the Antarctic continent. The 1990 International Trans-Antarctica Expedition, led by Minnesotan Will Steger, travelled 3,741 miles in seven months, enduring temperatures as low as -54F and winds as high as 100 mph. In early December 2010, the team will gather for the first time in 20 years to reflect on their journey and its impact, felt around the world by both lawmakers and school children.

Press Conference: Friday December 10th, 3 pm:
Will Steger Foundation – Phillips Eco Enterprise Center
2801 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Public Events:
• Free public forum – Perceptions on Climate Change, featuring China team member and scientist, Dr. Qin Dahe and University of Minnesota’s Associate Professor Elizabeth Wilson. Dr. Qin Dahe is a well-known glaciologist, climatologist and a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as the former Administrator of the China Meteorological Administration. Details: Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium, December 10th, 7 pm. More details.

• Expedition Reunion Event – Team members representing France, UK, China, Japan, Russia and the US will share their stories and video clips from the expedition at a public event on Saturday, December 11th from 3-5 p.m. The event will be held at Anne Simley Theater at Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul. Tickets are available at The North Face Stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The tickets are free; a donation of $5 for students and $10 for adults is suggested. More details.

The landmark expedition could not be replicated today: not only have dogs been banned from Antarctica, but the Larsen A and B Ice Shelves, on which the team travelled for a month, no longer exist, its demise a major indication of the impacts of climate change.

The impacts the team has made on a global scale are monumental. Following the expedition, the team members met with the heads of state in France, China, Russia, Japan and the US, calling for the ratification of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty; the Treaty involves 39 countries that cooperatively manage Antarctica for scientific purposes only. The team and sled dog “Sam” met with President and Mrs. Bush at the White House on March 27, 1990. In 1991, the Treaty was ratified, protecting Antarctica from oil and mineral exploration and preserving it for science.

In 2007, team member Dr. Qin Dahe of China shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for his work on climate change. Dr. Qin’s scientific contributions were largely based on the ice core samples he took across the entire Antarctic continent during the expedition. Frenchman Jean-Louis Etienne and Minnesotan Will Steger both have committed themselves to raise awareness about climate change, informing citizens through expeditions and public speaking on how they can make a difference. Locally, Will Steger established the Will Steger Foundation to educate, inspire, and empower people to engage in climate change solutions. UK team member Geoff Somers has worked with numerous polar expeditions and lectured widely. Dr. Victor Boyarsky of Russia heads the Arctic and Antarctic Museum in St. Petersburg and has led numerous expeditions in the Arctic. Japanese team member Keizo Funatsu runs Silver Cloud Kennel in Alaska and has competed several times in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

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