Arnesen, Liv (1954—)

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Arnesen, Liv (1954—)

Norwegian athlete and first woman to ski solo from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole. Born in Bærun, outside Oslo, Norway, in 1954; daughter of Finn (a machine contractor) and Berit (an accountant) Arnesen; studied history and literature at the University of Oslo, graduating in 1979; taught school in Norway; married Einar Glestad, in 1990.

Liv Arnesen was 12 when she read Roald Amundsen's account of his 1911 South Pole expedition. "I think it wasn't so much the South Pole that attracted me," she noted, "as it was that long ski trip." After months of preparation, which included gaining 20 pounds, pulling a sled through the mountains, skiing Oslo trails with a 30-pound pack, and dragging 100-pound tires attached to her waist through the forest, Arnesen made her attempt.

On Christmas Day, 1994, she became the first woman to ski solo from the Antarctic coast to the U.S. research base at the South Pole, a 745-mile trek. (Only one man has made the journey: Norway's Erling Kagge in 1993). Setting out from Hercules Inlet on November 5, with high winds and low temperatures, without dog team or backup, Arnesen pulled a sled, called a pulka, containing food, equipment, and a digital transmitter, averaging 15 miles a day. The journey took 50 days. Despite near frostbite in two fingers and a fall into a crevasse, Arnesen felt the adventure went well, though she found her enthusiastic reception by Yanks at the South Pole exhausting. "I was more tired after three or four days at the South Pole," said Arnesen, "than after skiing alone for 50." In 1992, Arnesen and Julie Maske traversed the Greenland ice cap in 24 days.


"Into the Great White Open," in People Weekly. March 13, 1995, pp. 109–110.