ANN BANCROFT, the first woman to trek to both the North and the South Pole was born on this date. Bancroft grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. She described her family as one of risk takers. It is reported that she struggled with a learning disabiity, but nevertheless graduated from St. Paul Academy and Summit School.Bancroft became a wilderness instructor and a gym teacher in Minnesota (at Clara Barton Open School) and St. Paul.
She gave up her teaching post in 1986 in order to participate with the “Will Steger International North Pole Expedition”. She arrived at the Pole together with five other team members after fifty-six days using dogsleds. This made Bancroft the first woman to reach the North Pole on foot and by sled.
She was also the first woman to cross both polar ice caps to reach the North and South Poles, as well as the first woman to ski across Greenland. In 1993 Bancroft led a four-woman expedition to the South Pole on skis; this expedition was the first all-female expedition to cross the ice to the South Pole. In 2001, Ann and Norwegian adventurer Liv Arnesen became the first women to ski across Antarctica.
Her achievements led to her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for the United States.
She currently co-owns an exploration company, Bancroft Arnesen Explore, with Liv Arnesen. In March 2007, Bancroft and Arnesen were taking part in a trek across the Arctic Ocean to draw attention to the problem of global warming. However, according to The Washington Post, the expedition was called off “after Arnesen suffered frostbite in three of her toes, and extreme cold temperatures drained the batteries in some of their electronic equipment.”
Bancroft also received a number of other awards and honors. She is out Gay and in 2006, she publicly campaigned against a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution to prohibit any legal recognition of marriages equality.