Author, teacher, adventurer and public speaker, Ann Bancroft was interviewed shortly before she led a four-woman expedition to the South Pole on skis. This personal conversation explores Ann’s ambitions, fears and her need to push herself.

What happened next?

This interview with Ann Bancroft was originally broadcast in 1991. The following year, Bancroft led the first east-to-west crossing of Greenland by a team of women, and in 1993 she led a 67-day, 660-mile ski expedition to the South Pole with four American women. Paired with the 1986 North Pole expedition she talks about in this interview, this accomplishment earned her the distinction of being the first-known woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles.

The same year of this interview, she founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Initially established to support the educational mission of the historic all-women’s expedition to Antarctica in 1993 (for which she is already preparing for in this interview), the foundation shifted gears in 1997 to focus on supporting, inspiring and providing resources for girls and women to achieve their dreams.

In February 2001, Bancroft and Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen sailed and skied 1,717 miles across Antarctica. This 94-day trek put the pair in the history books as the first women to do so. Following their trek, the pair established Bancroft Arnesen Explore to create “access for girls to the leadership lessons we learned while crossing the polar ice caps.”

Bancroft’s love of nature and the outdoors inevitably led her to activism around climate change and clean water. In 2007, Bancroft and Arnesan set out on a North Pole expedition to draw attention to global warming (though it was cut short due to frostbite). In 2017, Bancroft led a 60-day, 1,500-mile expedition on the Ganges River to raise awareness of clean water and the downstream effects of pollution. Bancroft is also an activist in other realms; she publicly campaigned against the Minnesota amendments restricting marriage to unions between a man and a woman.

In addition to being named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine in 1987, Bancroft has also  been featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century (published in 1998), named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine in 2001 and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

She currently resides in Sunfish Lake, Minn.


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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the Friends of Minnesota Experience.


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