As a native Floridian, Glenn Stein often gets asked how he came to be a polar historian.
“It does seem something of a contradiction,” he said.
Stein, a 1985 UF College of Journalism and Communications graduate, spoke in front of 61 people Sunday at the Florida Museum of Natural History about the 2014 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition, or ITACE.
Stein, who is the United States liaison for the British project, said the expedition would be an attempt to recreate Ernest Shackleton’s famous failed Antarctic crossing of 1914.
“Shackleton was one of the finest explorers of the Heroic Age,” he said. “After all these years, we hopefully will complete what he started.”
During the free event, he spoke for an hour about the challenges of the upcoming expedition.
The six members of ITACE will attempt to cross about 2,000 miles on skis while pulling supply sleds weighing about 330 pounds. During the journey, they are expected to face below-freezing temperatures and ice-veiled crevasses hundreds of feet deep.
“Out there, you come face-to-face with yourself,” Stein said.
Another challenge of exploring Antarctica is its isolation, with no permanent human residents, Stein said.
“Antarctica is the only such landmass on our planet where human beings have gone and not found our own kind,” he said.
Despite the dangers, Stein said Antarctica can also be a place of “unimaginable beauty.”
The expedition, which will cost about $1.5 million, is being funded by private donations, Stein said.
Although the expedition won’t embark until fall 2014, those involved are busy with preparations and promotion, he said. The expedition team will also travel to Norway for two weeks of training.
Tiffany Ireland, an education assistant at the museum, said she thinks ITACE is an exciting opportunity.
“They’re pushing the human race farther into discovery,” she said.
Though the expedition will use modern equipment and survival techniques, Stein said it would stay true to its historic roots.
“The expedition will breathe new life into Shackleton’s family motto,” he said. “‘By endurance, we conquer.’”