Friday, January 21, 2022

Web cast highlights trek to North Pole

April 25, 2001

Sue Carter’s nightmare and her dream are over.

The MSU journalism professor and 11 others from the United States and Canada became the first all-women group to reach the North Pole from a Russian-based location at about 4 p.m. EST Monday.

Despite the numerous obstacles and dangers faced on its journey, the group - known as WomenQuest - arrived nearly a day ahead of schedule.

“Sue said, ‘We are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually stressed to the max,’” said Bonnie Bucqueroux, who operates the group’s Web site, www.womenquest.org, of a phone conversation she had with Carter on Monday.

“But, they went for it and made it, which is stunning.”

After heading the wrong direction at the beginning of their journey, the women awoke Sunday morning to find they had drifted five miles west toward Greenland. Apparently, the ice on which the women slept shifted.

The shift forced the group to ski 48 straight hours to make up for the time and distance lost.

Two members of the group, Susan Martin and Phyllis Grummon, also contracted mild cases of hypothermia, but have since recovered.

Both Martin, a school teacher in Boyne City, and Grummon, director of university planning at MSU, said it was teamwork and perseverance that helped them overcome these hindrances to reach their destination.

“It was absolutely critical to us making it,” Grummon said during a live webcast from the pole Tuesday.

Through a special Web site set up by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the group contacted U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, at her Washington, D.C., office to discuss the trek and field questions. Stabenow put the group in touch with NASA to arrange the webcast.

“When they contacted us we were more than happy to help,” Stabenow spokesman Dave Lemmon said, adding that it also gave the senator an opportunity to talk with the women directly about their experiences.

The group will now venture back to Moscow, where it is slated to depart for Detroit Metro Airport, arriving at 9 p.m. Monday.

“I have been on a roller coaster of emotions this whole month,” said Tom Bartley, husband of WomenQuest member and Haslett High School Associate Principal Lynn Bartley. “I’m very relieved everybody is OK, but I’ll be really relieved when she makes it home.”

As for the fate of WomenQuest, Carter said there may be future journeys to come. However, that will come after some relaxation.

“We’ve talked about a couple things we might be doing next,” she said during the webcast.

“But, a shower is coming first.”

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