Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunniva Sorby and The Great Women's Expedition to South Pole, what it all means

                                                  Sunniva Sorby in her element in the snow.

     A few days after my birthday the spouse and I saw and heard an inspirational speaker as part of "Women's History Month." Sunniva Sorby, an American of Norwegian descent, went with Anne Bancroft (not the actress, "another" Anne Bancroft) and two others on the first all female expedition to the South Pole. It was an expedition of great trials, as they went into "the interior" and didn't see any cute penguins or breaching whales. On this 1993 expedition they spent four long months pulling 200 pounds of supplies on a sled, against 50 mph winds, and it got as cold as -76 degrees (maybe Celsius, I'm not sure). Imagine doing this for four months, and you see the whiteness of snow and ice all day. And THEN, you get bronchitis and can't really breathe as you're pulling all that durn weight!
    I don't know how she and the other women did it. They had tremendous stamina. And I think they wanted to show that if the men could do it (Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912), then why couldn't the women? We have women on the U. S. Supreme Court and have had women up in space so why not have women make it to the South Pole? It had to take great perseverance on their part to reach the South Pole, which she said had something like a metal marker, and I think they also put in flags and took pictures of each other. Can a camera even work in below zero temperatures?
    She pointed out that she now works with this "catalyst" organization that works to help businesswomen, and that we should always being "striving" for the next big thing. After her momentous goal, she actually was depressed for months. What would be her second act? She said she's done many things since that great task, and we need to keep striving, as it is part of the human condition. I have "strived" to overcome cancer, get a degree, and teach college students, and maybe get a book published (as opposed to just "in print"). We need to seek out new things, even as we get older (like me).
    As a naturalist I asked her what "nature" she saw down there. Any cute penguins or birds?
In the interior she said there was Nada, nothing. There is a mite that lives there and it doesn't even have wings (they would probably freeze off, I would guess). She has returned and boarded ships, which I am guessing go by penguin colonies and other water bound wildlife. I think she mentioned something about the effect of climate change on the ice there, but didn't really go into that. She was all about believing you can do anything you put your mind to doing. I have to work more on that myself. She was a powerful Virginia Tech speaker.

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