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Memories, Frozen in Time: Jackie Ronne's Return Trip to an Antarctic Wasteland

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Judith Weinraub
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 5, 1995; 12:00 AM

Women do things for love they might not do in their right minds: Ignore infidelities. Raise other women's children. Rob banks.

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Edith "Jackie" Ronne spent 15 months in a 12-by-12 hut in Antarctica.

She went there in 1946, two years into her marriage to a drop-dead handsome naval officer and explorer. Finn Ronne, who had two previous polar expeditions to his credit, returned south after World War II to survey the last unknown coastline in the world, a 650-mile stretch along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Somehow, he talked his reluctant wife into accompanying him on a six-week voyage to the land of icecaps, seals and penguins.

"I was ready to do anything for him," says Ronne of her husband, whose father, Martin Ronne, was also a polar explorer.

In late February Jackie Ronne, 75, a widow since 1980, extended the family saga by taking her daughter Karen on a cruise to the base camp that housed her husband's expedition. Although she'd been back to Antarctica, she hadn't seen the camp since they left in the spring of 1948. "It's an extremely difficult place to get to," she says. "The icy conditions make it hard. You have to hit it just right.

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