Colin O’Brady Announces “The Impossible Row” Across The Drake Passage to Antarctica

Adventurer Colin O’Brady has announced his next big project, and true to form it’s going to be another big, difficult journey. O’Brady, who has climbed the Seven Summits in record time, and skied to the North and South Pole, will now embark on what he calls “The Impossible Row.” This expedition will send him, along with five other men, on a voyage across the dreaded Drake Passage, from the tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula. The only problem is, this “impossible” feat has already been done.

Set to get underway in December, The Impossible Row will begin on the shores of South America at the very tip of Cape Horn. There, O’Brady and his team will shove off in their six-person row boat and begin heading south, attempting to traverse the Drake Passage. The plan is to row across that incredibly difficult and challenging body of water and reach the Antarctic Peninsula. They hope to cover the roughly 600 mile (965 km) distance in about 21 days. In order to do that, they’ll row 24 hours per day, seven days a week, with each crew member taking a 90 minute shift at the oars.

The expedition is being filmed for the Discovery Channel and will presumably be the subject of an upcoming show. It will no doubt provide plenty of drama, as the cold temperatures, rolling ocean, and high winds keep the Drake Passage amongst the most treacherous stretches of ocean anywhere on the planet, even in the 21st century. Even during the austral summer, this is a significant challenge, making a safe crossing far from a forgone conclusion.

It should be pointed out that this journey was done way back in 1988 by a four-person team led by American adventurer Ned Gillette. That team completed the crossing in 14 days, although O’Brady is quick to point out that his expedition has a few qualifiers that help to distinguish it from the previous Drake Passage row. For instance, Gillette’s team used a sail to assist their rowing efforts, and O’Brady and company will be doing it under their own power. The Impossible Row team calls Gillette’s expedition a “hybrid crossing,” while there’s will be “completely human powered.” In the world of exploration and adventure, these narrow distinctions can seem like splitting hairs, but they important to some folks. O’Brady knows this well after the controversy that followed his Antarctic crossing from earlier this year.

Once the expedition gets underway in a few weeks, you’ll be able to follow the team’s progress using the GPS tracker. You can read more about the row and find that tracker, on the O’Brady’s website.