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.
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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