Liv Arnesen (1953 – )
Liv Ragnheim Arnesen is a Norwegian educator, adventurer, guide, and motivational speaker. In 1994, she made international headlines becoming the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole – a 50-day expedition of 745 miles (1,200 km). Along with Ann Bancroft, she also holds the distinction of being the first woman to ski and sail across Antarctica’s landmass.
Arnesen grew up in Bærum, Norway on the outskirts of Oslo where at an early age, her parents immersed her in their passions: cross-country skiing and polar history. She read about Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole and was inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary attempt to cross Antarctica. Her love of athletics and the outdoors eventually led Arnesen to compete in orienteering and cross-country skiing, as well as to coach high school students in advanced-level cross-country skiing.
Arnesen led the first unsupported women’s crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap in 1992. Then, in 1994, she skied solo, unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole – the first woman ever to do so. Her book, ‘Good Girls Do Not Ski to the South Pole’ recounts her experiences on the ice – as well as the scepticism she faced from potential sponsors. “Have you ever hauled a sledge?” was a constantly recurring question, despite her successful Greenland expedition and her strong skiing background.
In 1998, Arnesen met American polar explorer Ann Bancroft, a kindred spirit who shared her childhood dream of crossing Antarctica. In November 2000, the two flew from Capetown, South Africa to Blue 1 ice runway in Dronning Maud Land and set off on their 1,717-mile (2,747 km) trek. 94 days later, they became the first women in history to have sailed and skied across Antarctica’s landmass.
Arnesen’s polar achievements have made her a role model for women and girls, in a field traditionally dominated by men. She received the WINGS “Women of Discovery Courage Award” in 2008 and was named one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2001. A self-proclaimed “keen” but not fanatical outdoors enthusiast, Arnesen hopes that her stories ignite passion in others to achieve their own dreams. Her personal heroes include Marie Curie, Fridtjof Nansen, Thor Herdahl, and Ernest Shackleton.
When you feel your heart beating hard or your blood running fast, you have found something that is important to you. Create room for it.
– Liv Arnesen