HOBART, Australia — The first two women to ski across the Antarctic reached civilisation on Monday when their rescue ship sailed into Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania after two weeks at sea.
"We are thrilled to be on Australian soil. It feels good," said American adventurer Ann Bancroft, 45, of Scandia, Minnesota.
Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, from Norway, pulled a 113 kg (250 pound) sled 2,736 km (1,700 miles) from one side of the continent to the other via the South Pole.
After finishing their trek in early February the pair found themselves stranded by bad weather on the Ross Ice Shelf, a wide expanse of permanently frozen ocean—644 km (400 miles) from the McMurdo base.
They had hoped to para-sail with their sled across the ice shelf to the base but a lack of wind in the first few made it impossible to reach their ship in time.
The vessel had to leave Antarctic waters before it became frozen in at the onset of winter.
The pair erected a makeshift camp in white-out conditions on the ice shelf to await rescue. Temperatures in Antarctica at this time of year are around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius), with winds gusting up to 100 miles (160 km) per hour, amid 24-hour daylight.
A plane equipped with skis was eventually able to land on the ice shelf, picking up the two women and flying them to McMurdo, where they were able to hitch a ride with an Australian research ship.
"I was really sea sick for four days," said Arnesen, 47, of Oslo, of her voyage to Australia.
The women had been in Antarctica since mid-October.
The adventurers, who suffered only minor frost bite on their trek across the continent, said it was very frustrating not to have been able to complete the final leg across the Ross Ice Shelf to their expedition's aircraft and ship.
"What we learned from this trip with 96 days under our belt was that you can think you know where the hardest parts are but there's another around the corner," Bancroft told Reuters.
"It was clearly frustrating and hard for the two of us not to finish up across the Ross Ice Shelf. But at this point after two weeks on a boat, being on an ice pack and surrounded by penguins, we are feeling pretty good," she said.
The pair plan to return home later this week, but are already talking about a return to the Antarctic.
"We didn't see much wildlife on this trip, so we want to do something coastal next time," Arnesen told Reuters.
The expedition's website is at yourexpedition.com.