While the rest of us have been enjoying some down time with the holidays the Antarctic skiers have continued to toil away, often in poor weather conditions. That’s been the norm of the frozen continent this year, which has seen a number of the people attempting to ski to the South Pole abandon those attempts amidst what is possibly the worst weather conditions we have seen in Antarctica in recent memory. But today we get some good news as it has been revealed that American Colin O’Brady has completed his solo, unassisted traverse, becoming the first person in history to complete that journey.
The past few days have certainly not been easy ones for O’Brady, who struggled with soft snow, whiteout conditions, and blizzards in his final push to the end. But, on Christmas morning he found himself roughly 80 miles (128 km) from his goal of reaching the finish line on the Ross Ice Shelf. That meant that the end was near, but rather than break it down into a 3-4 days ski to the end, he decided to push through without stopping to camp for the evening. In the end, it made for one massive 32 hour, 30 minute push to reach the edge of the continent, where the American shared the news of his success with the world in an Instagram post, which you can read here.
As noted in the update, O’Brady finished on Day 54 of his expedition, which is actually faster than anticipated. When setting out, he thought it would take somewhere in the 65-70 day range, but his final push made the schedule much faster, particularly as his sled got lighter in the final hours and days.
Congratulations to Colin on making this historic first. His performance in this endeavor has been nothing short of impressive and inspiring. Despite the incredibly poor conditions in Antarctica this season, he’s managed to complete a journey that has never been done before, and do so at a surprisingly steady and quick pace. Now, he’ll wait for the weather to improve to allow him to be picked up by an ALE aircraft and flown back to Union Glacier, where he’ll await a flight back to Chile, and then home. A much deserved rest is in his immediate future, with time to recover from this massive undertaking.
While O’Brady is the first to complete this expedition, he may not be the only person to do so for long. British rival Lou Rudd is nearing the end of his expedition as well. He is slowly but surely covering the final miles on his way to the coast too and may actually reach the end before New Years. So, while this is an expedition that has never been done before, it now appears that we’ll have two men finish it within a week or so of one another. I’ll continue to watch Lou’s updates as well as he nears the end of his journey too.
More to come soon.
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