Looking back, tell us more about the Trans-Antarctica expedition...
I wanted to experience Antarctica every foot of the way. What would be better than trying this impossible route? And then The North Face came on board. Mark Erickson created the designs, and they shut down the whole plant in Berkeley for almost three weeks to make all the clothing for the expedition. I brought a special breed of dogs called Polar Huskies that were really tough. These dogs were really good at 60 below. Really good spirits, a northern breed with longer legs that are equipped for long distances. We trained for a couple of years across Greenland. A lot of expertise went into this expedition. We struck out on a 222 day journey, and just barely survived a number of times. Seven months later, after almost 4000 miles, we all came out on the other side. I tried to repeat that type of feeling again, but I could never even come close. It was just a remarkable moment. I've done many expeditions after that, but never one of this stature. This expedition changed minds. Within a year and a half, Antarctica was set aside for the preservation of humankind.
Knowing relations between the six countries represented weren’t great at the time, how was that reflected in the team?
It was the middle of the end of the Cold War, but it was still the Cold War. Russia and the United States, were not talking to one another. Neither was China. But we needed the Soviet support in order to get the logistics on the last 2000 miles of this expedition, or else we couldn't do it. Jean, my partner, was a diplomat. And he made the contacts with the Soviets and also the Chinese. Putting it all together, we were working nonstop for over three years.
How did you feel in 1991 when the Antarctica Treaty was finally signed?
It was incredible. I was with my dad on a Saturday morning in Minneapolis. We heard a letter dropped in the mailbox. And in that letter, it said: congratulations, the treaty was signed. And this all started with that chance encounter with Jean. It just shows how much we need international cooperation to solve the climate issues of today. As a society, we're dealing with equity, huge social changes, which are disruptive, and very important. And the key to get through our social issues is through cooperation of all races. That was our power. We never looked at another person, another country, as being above or below us. We were all one, all equal. And whenever I get into a challenging situation, like when I started working on the climate movement 18 years ago, I always draw strength from what we did in Antarctica through cooperation. Our viewpoint of the world always has to be challenged. Because it's a personal viewpoint. It’s a cultural viewpoint. And to be a whole person, you've got to always be willing to have your viewpoint in life challenged.