American completes first solo trek across Antarctica without aid

US adventurer Colin O'Brady (above) arrived at the finishing point on the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after covering a total of 1,480km. The 33-year-old had set off on cross-country skis on Nov 3, hauling supplies on a sled (righ
US adventurer Colin O'Brady arrived at the finishing point on the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after covering a total of 1,480km. The 33-year-old had set off on cross-country skis on Nov 3, hauling supplies on a sled (above) that weighed nearly 180kg.PHOTO: NYTIMES
US adventurer Colin O'Brady (above) arrived at the finishing point on the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after covering a total of 1,480km. The 33-year-old had set off on cross-country skis on Nov 3, hauling supplies on a sled (righ
US adventurer Colin O'Brady (above) arrived at the finishing point on the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after covering a total of 1,480km. The 33-year-old had set off on cross-country skis on Nov 3, hauling supplies on a sled that weighed nearly 180kg.PHOTO: NYTIMES

He crosses continent in 54 days, covering final 124km in 32 hours

WASHINGTON • An American adventurer has become the first person to complete a solo trek across Antarctica without assistance of any kind.

Mr Colin O'Brady, 33, took 54 days to complete the nearly 1,500km crossing of the frozen continent from north to south.

"I accomplished my goal: To become the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided," he wrote on Instagram after covering the final 124km in 32 hours.

"While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced," he wrote.

"I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey. I'm delirious writing this as I haven't slept yet."

His voyage was tracked by Global Positioning System, and live updates were provided daily on his website www.colinobrady.com

Mr O'Brady and an Englishman, Army Captain Louis Rudd, 49, set off individually on Nov 3 from Union Glacier in a bid to be the first to complete a solo, unassisted crossing of Antarctica.

In 1997, Norwegian polar explorer Borge Ousland completed the first solo crossing of Antarctica but was wind-aided by kites on his voyage.

Mr O'Brady and Capt Rudd set off on cross-country skis dragging sleds called pulks, which weighed nearly 180kg each. Mr O'Brady reached the South Pole on Dec 12, the 40th day of his journey. He arrived at the finishing point on the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday after covering a total of 1,480km. Capt Rudd is about a day or two behind.

Mr O'Brady said he decided over breakfast to finish his journey in one continuous push. He wrote on Instagram: "As I was boiling water for my morning oatmeal, a seemingly impossible question popped into my head... I wonder, would (it) be possible to do one straight continuous push all the way to the end?"

"By the time I was lacing up my boots, the impossible plan had become a solidified goal," he said. "I'm going to push on and try to finish all 80 miles to the end in one go."

The New York Times described Mr O'Brady's effort as among the "most remarkable feats in polar history", ranking alongside the 1911 "Race to the South Pole" between Norway's Roald Amundsen and England's Robert Falcon Scott.

It said: "To complete the final 77.54 miles (124km) in one shot - essentially tacking an ultra marathon onto the 53rd day of an already unprecedented journey - set an even higher bar for anyone who tries to surpass it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'American completes first solo trek across Antarctica without aid'. Print Edition | Subscribe