Antarctica 2018: High Winds Create Havoc, Larsen Set to Begin

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Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been following the progress of Colin O’Brady and Lou Rudd very closely. They’re the two polar explorers who are independently attempting solo, unsupported crossings of the Antarctic continent, and because they have a long way to go in their quests to become the first to make that traverse, they were also the first ones out on the ice this season. Soon, there will be a number of other skiers joining them as numerous others are set to begin their journey’s to the South Pole. For now however, O’Brady and Rudd toil alone in some of the toughest conditions on the planet.

As I’ve mentioned before, because they are running somewhat parallel to each other the updates from O’Brady and Rudd have been similar. For example, today they both report in on the 16th day of their expeditions with high winds making things extremely challenging. Lou says that he was up most of the night ensuring that his tent was damaged by the gale forces that were buffeting it throughout the evening. He also admits to seriously taking a rest day to wait out the conditions. He did end up staying in his sleeping bag for a bit longer today, but eventually the winds died down around 2:00 PM, so he packed up camp and hit the trail, skiing for a half day and making some progress. The British polar traveler says the rest did his legs some good, but he still feels like he accomplished something.

Meanwhile, O’Brady stuck to his schedule as best he could, skiing for a full day in 30 mph (48 km/h) winds for most of the day. He says that there were times he wanted to give up, stop and put up his tent again so he could call it a day. The American pressed on however and when his skiing leg was finished he felt a great sense of accomplishment. Colin says he knows that there will be many more difficult days like this one ahead and pushing through now will only make it easier to continue to do so as the expedition unfolds.

The most recent flight out to the Union Glacier camp took place yesterday, with Eric Larsen, Japanese South Pole skier Masatatsu Abe, and French adventurer Matthieu Tordeur aboard. They’re all getting settled at the campsite now before preparing to head out to their starting points at Hercules Inlet. When exactly they get dropped off at that spot is weather dependent, but typically it only takes a few days.

Eric Larsen is our guest on The Adventure Podcast this week as we spend about 45 minutes chatting with him about his upcoming attempt at setting a speed record for skiing to the South Pole. He hopes to cover that distance in just 22 days. But before he begins that journey he tells us that he will first ski about 100 miles (160 km) over to Hercules Inlet. This will serve as a way for him to find his rhythm and get his ski legs under him before he begins the real challenge. Of course, we’ll be following that progress closely in the days to come, but if you want to listen to his interview the episode will be released tomorrow.

That’s all for today. The next update will probably have a lot to share as more skiers get underway at long last.

Kraig Becker