- The Impossible First/Colin O’Brady
- 33-year-old American explorer Colin O’Brady is attempting to become the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided.
- He just reached the South Pole, 40 days into his trek.
- A British man, Louis Rudd, is also trekking alone across the southern continent and nearing the South Pole.
- If either man finishes the journey, it would be a world first.
It’s literally all downhill from here for American explorer Colin O’Brady.
The 33-year-old is trying to become the first person to cross Antarctica on skis, alone and unaided. He just hit the South Pole – the route’s halfway mark and point of highest elevation. O’Brady expects he’ll pick up speed now as he heads down-slope and away from the pole. His final destination is the Ross Ice Shelf.
O’Brady posted an Instagram photo of himself at the bottom tip of the world on Wednesday, 40 days into his trek. “Today has quite honestly been one of the best days of my entire life,” he wrote in the post. “It was whiteout conditions approaching the pole as it’s been for days.”
View this post on Instagram
Day 40: SOUTH POLE!!! I made it!!! What a day. I expected to be happy reaching the South Pole, but today has quite honestly been one of the best days of my entire life. It was whiteout conditions approaching the pole as it’s been for days. I spent about an hour there – taking photos and soaking in the moment before continuing onward. I am deeply honored to be adding to the 100 year lineage of the @explorersclub flag. Just having that fabric in my hand at the pole, knowing all of the other hands it’s touched over the generations, gives me chills. Shortly after leaving the pole the sun came out and I was overcome with one of the deepest feelings of happiness and calm that I have ever experienced. I truly felt I was tapping into all of the love that was being sent my way from all over the world. Deep, deep, deep gratitude – I’m shining my love right back at you. Some perspective on today’s accomplishment (which for me feels completely humbling, putting me in rare company.) Only 28 people before me have completed coast to pole crossing; skied from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, solo, unsupported (no resupplies), and unaided (no kites). Only 2 people before me have done so on this route. For all of these people the South Pole was a very worthy finish line, but I still have unfinished business as I try to be the very first to complete a full traverse and reach the opposite coast. Onward!! #TheImpossibleFirst #BePossible
The whiteout was so bad the night before O’Brady reached South Pole that he stopped and camped in his tent, just three miles shy of his goal. Once he reached the pole, though, conditions were clear enough for him to snap the selfie.
Just before O’Brady started his journey, he told Business Insider that the first half of the trek would be harder than the second. He took off hauling a 400-pound load, which included just one pair of underwear in order to save weight.
“All the way to the South Pole, not only do I have a heavy sled, but I’m going uphill the entire time,” he said. “It’s imperceptibly up and downhill to the naked eye, but you can really feel it when you’re dragging that much weight.”
- Colin O’Brady/The Impossible First/Business Insider
Now, O’Brady has eaten 40 days’ worth of food rations – he’s subsisting on a 8,000-calorie-per-day diet of protein bars and freeze-dried meals – and burned through a good chunk of his cooking fuel.
So he’s hoping to pick up the pace.
But O’Brady isn’t the only man trying to set a record as the first person to cross the white continent without the help of a re-supply or a kite. Around the same time he started his trek, another explorer, 49-year-old Louis Rudd also set out from the Ronne Ice Shelf. Rudd is now 12 miles away from the South Pole checkpoint, which means the world first is still in reach for either skier.
The solo, unaided crossing both men are attempting has never been completed before because everyone who’s tried has either given up or died.
“People have crossed oceans in sailboats by themselves, people have even rowed boats across the oceans, but this is just one of those things that hasn’t quite been accomplished,” O’Brady said.
That’s part of the reason why O’Brady bulked up before the trip. He spent months strength training, packing about 20 extra pounds of muscle mass onto his normally 165-pound frame.
O’Brady said he hopes his journey inspires others to do things they never thought were possible, too.
- The Impossible First/Colin O’Brady
“I don’t think everyone wants to go walk across Antarctica, but I know that people certainly have challenges in their life,” O’Brady said. “Everyone has reservoirs of untapped potential inside of themselves and can achieve really incredible things.”