48 Polar Explorers Side with Nat Geo Regarding Colin O’Brady Controversy

I know more than a few of you are already tired of hearing about the ongoing controversy surrounding Colin O’Brady and his dust-up with National Geographic. The venerable organization recently published a scathing article about the American adventurer, calling into question some elements of his “Impossible First” crossing of Antarctica. In a nutshell, the article indicates that O’Brady has gone to great lengths to make his accomplishments sound grander than they actually are, possibly in a bid for fame and fortune. In response to those claims, O’Brady has publicly issued a 16-page document refuting the article and calling for a retraction. If you think the entire thing sounds like a soap opera, than you’re definitely up to speed.

Late last week, the story took another turn when a large and very well-known group of polar explorers issued a joint statement in support of Nat Geo. Many of those individuals were interviewed for the article and are openly quoted in the story, but dozens more added their voice to the discussion as well. That list includes some luminaries in the polar expedition community, including the likes of Borge Ousland, Mike Horn, Eric Larsen, and numerous others. The note that accompanies the names of the signatories can be found in its entirety below.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

In regard to the article originally entitled ‘The Problem with Colin O’Brady’ written by Aaron Teasdale and published by National Geographic, we, the professional polar adventuring, exploring and guiding community, support the article in its entirety.

We request that the article not be retracted and stand as testament to the importance of preserving truth, integrity and history in our field of endeavour.

Yours faithfully,
The ‘Polar Community’, signed:

Eric Philips. Skied five times to the South Pole. President, International Polar Guides Association and IPGA Master Polar Guide

Børge Ousland. First solo full unsupported crossing of Antarctica, 2845km. IPGA Honorary Member

Mike Horn. 5100km solo full kite-ski traverse of Antarctica

Will Steger. Transantarctica — longest traverse of Antarctica, 6020km. North Pole crossing and expedition

Geoff Somers. Transantarctica — longest traverse of Antarctica, 6020km. Polar adventurer and guide

Damien Gildea. Author of Mountaineering In Antarctica and leader of 10 expeditions to Antarctica

Robert Swan. First to ski to both the North and South Poles

Dixie Dansercoer. Multiple North Pole and South Pole expeditions and crossings. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Richard Weber. 2020km return kite-ski expedition to South Pole. IPGA Honorary Memberill

Liv Arnesen. First woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole, first women crossing of Antarctica

Ann Bancroft. With Liv Arnesen first women to kite-ski across Antarctica, 2747km. North Pole by dogsled

Lonnie Dupre. Rolex-award winning Arctic explorer, North Pole expeditions and Greenland circumnav

Paul A Landry. Guided 5 expeditions to South Pole and Pole of Inaccessibility. IPGA Honorary Member

Eric Larsen. Multiple North Pole and South Pole Expeditions, Everest

Ryan Waters. Longest unsupported Antarctic ski crossing, 1800km. Everest. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Ben Saunders. Record longest polar ski journey, 2889km, with Tarka L’Herpiniere

Lars Ebbesen. Skied to South Pole, 7 times across Greenland, polar expedition manager. IPGA Honorary guide

Pen Hadow. Unsupported ski to South Pole, North Pole solo

Geoff Wilson. Two kite-ski crossings of Antarctica including the longest solo polar journey, 5300km

Christoph Höbenreich. Multiple South Pole and Antarctica expeditions. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Conrad Anker. Pioneer of multiple climbing routes in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica and Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica

John Krakauer. First ascent of Rakekniven, Queen Maud Land and Vinson Massif east face

Gordon Wiltsie. National Geographic photographer. Led and documented 10 Antarctic expeditions

David Roberts. Author of Great Exploration Hoaxes

Ann Daniels. First British all-women’s team to ski to the South Pole. Polar guide.

Bengt Rotmo. Multiple polar expeditions including South Pole. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Conrad Dickinson. 2020km return kite-ski expedition to South Pole. Retired IPGA Polar Guide

Hannah McKeand. Skied 6 times to South Pole and former speed record holder. IPGA board member and Polar Guide

Doug Stoup. Skied 18 times to South Pole, twice on SPOT road. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Ramon Larramendi. First wind-powered vehicle crossing of Antarctica and to South Pole

Christian Eide. Fastest unsupported ski expedition to the South Pole.

Thomas Ulrich. Multiple North Pole and Greenland expeditions. IPGA Master Polar Guide

Inge Meløy. North Pole, South Pole, Everest

Justin Jones. Joint longest unsupported polar ski expedition, 2260km

Inge Solheim. Multiple North and South Pole expeditions, polar guide

Harald Kippenes. North Pole to Canada ski expedition, polar guide

Matthieu Tordeur. Youngest person to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole

Alan Chambers. Full unsupported North Pole ski expedition and IPGA board member.

Odd Harald Hauge. One of the first to ski to South Pole. Greenland crossing record holder for 25 years

Michael Charavin. Greenland full kite-ski circumnavigation, 5067km. IPGA Polar Guide

Keith Tuffley. Cycled and skied unsupported to the South Pole via a new route

Martin Hartley. Polar photographer and Arctic Ocean adventurer

Einar Finnsson. Skied to the South Pole and four times across Greenland. IPGA Polar Guide

Bill Spindler. Three South Pole Station winters including station manager 1976–77

Heath Jamieson. Skied twice to South Pole, once on a new route. IPGA Polar Guide

Kathinka Gyllenhammar. Guided South Pole expedition, polar guide

Alex Hibbert. Former record holder longest polar ski journey.

Victoria Nicholson. Manager WWTW South Pole Allied Challenge, largest expedition to South Pole

Experiences listed here are condensed for the sake of brevity and may not reflect current polar classification terminology.

As you can see, that’s pretty much a who’s who of polar exploration. My guess is that after this was released, Nat Geo feels more emboldened than ever to stick by their article. This also tells me once again, we probably haven’t heard the last of this story either.

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