Airplanes usually use wheels as a support during parking. In the Antarctic and Arctic latitudes, special skis are used instead for this purpose, fixed to the fuselage of the aircraft. It seems that in this case, the travelers were in Antarctica. And that the story is about the events of the last century, and has been written by the people having had diplomatic experience. Now researchers in Antarctica use special helicopters.
Lead smth means here to make people have a particular way of life being used figuratively, or to guide as influence to a course of action or thought, for example, to lead pupils to think clearly.
With due regard for the questions that have been recieved concerning the grammar of the sentence I should point out the following.
Parsing the sentence makes it possible to notice that the perception of the meaning is dependent on the style of a sentence here. Such grammatical point is of great interest for the advanced learners.
The sentence is parsed as following: Subject [Ann and Liv] Predicate [have spent] Direct object [the years] Adverb1 [since their great adventure] Adverb2 [leading parties to many parts of the world].
Adverb1 is a Prepositional phrase having the preposition Since as its Head.
Adverb2 is a Participle clause. The argument has appeared here because the punctuation of the sentence used in the OP doesn't indicate what the Subject for the Participle clause of the Adverb2 is actually.
The grammartical indication of such Subject is obligatory for understanding any sentence of the type correctly. Such indication comes to be by means of the punctuation and style markers in the written speech, and, intonation, stress and pause in the spoken speech.
The overall style of the fragment and the sentence itself are elevated obviously. It makes possible to use the so called Absolute participle clause which has its own subject expressed explicitly. For example it looks here as it follows: Their great adventure leading parties...
The style markers make it possible to take the prepositional phrase with the Head Since as a prepositional phrase in which the noun is postmodified by the participle clause: Prepostional phrase [Since] Noun phrase [their great adventure] Postmodifying participle clause [leading parties to many parts of the world]. The Noun phrase is indicated as a Subject functionally for the Absolute participle clause.
To make the Noun phrase [Ann and Liv] the Subject of the Participle clause it is necessary a comma to be placed before the Participle clause [leading parties to many parts of the world] for an elevated style of the written sentence, or, a comma and the preposition with for a neutral style of the written sentence as follows: [, with leading parties to many parts of the world].
In such case the participle clause is an Adverb of the sentence having the same Subject as the whole sentence.
The issue described is specified as the problem of the Dangling participle modifiers in many grammars.