On March 3, 1990, I along with five other explorers from six different countries and our 42 sled dogs completed the first-ever dogsled crossing of the Antarctic continent.
I, along with Jean-Louis Etienne from France, led this expedition, traveling 3,741 miles in seven months, enduring temperatures as low as -54F and winds as high as 100 mph.
This expedition had an important mission – saving Antarctica.
Following the expedition, the team members met with heads of state in France, China, Russia, Japan and the U.S. calling for the ratification of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty. The Treaty was ratified in 1991, protecting Antarctica from oil and mineral exploration and preserving it for science.
The Trans-Antarctica Expedition could not be replicated today: not only have dogs been banned from Antarctica, but the Larsen A and B Ice Shelves, on which the team traveled for a month, no longer exist, their demise a major indication of the impacts of climate change.
The first hand witnessing of this devastation and my life-long calling as an educator led me to found the Will Steger Foundation to educate and empower citizens and policy makers to engage in solutions for climate change. The Foundation is celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary.
On a parallel path, I have continued to build my homestead in Ely, Minnesota as the place where I plan and prepare for all of my expeditions. Created out of this long history and in its final stages of completion, this now named Steger Wilderness Center is the place where I put my expedition-based thinking and work to practical use. Over the years it was built by master craftsmen and student apprentices that gathered every summer and were inspired by the wilderness setting.
My method for connecting the expedition way of working to others is simple: a lofty aim, pure intention, planning for every extreme, dogged resilience, and belief in the team.