A Yale graduate from Portland, Oregon, has just defied the odds and completed the first unassisted solo trek across Antarctica. Colin O’Brady may not have been the first person to attempt this task, but he is now making the record books for proving that it could be done.
According to the New Haven Register, O’Brady is the first person to “traverse Antarctica alone, unassisted in any way by wind or with additional supplies.” The solo trek covered 930-miles (1,500-kilometers), a lot of which was nearly entirely uphill. Colin managed this task in 54 days, according to his Instagram account, starting the trek on November 3.
Colin also had to carry 375 pounds (170 kilograms) of gear with him in order to survive the challenging conditions. According to Business Insider, his supplies included “a tent, a sleeping bag, cameras, a satellite phone, and 30 pounds of fuel for cooking.” All of this was carried on a sled. However, the vast majority of the weight of his gear came from 220 pounds of food.
On the last day of his journey, Colin described how he was feeling about completing the seemingly impossible task.
“While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced,” O’Brady said via Instagram.
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Day 54: FINISH LINE!!! I did it! The Impossible First ✅. 32 hours and 30 minutes after leaving my last camp early Christmas morning, I covered the remaining ~80 miles in one continuous “Antarctica Ultramarathon” push to the finish line. The wooden post in the background of this picture marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, where Antarctica’s land mass ends and the sea ice begins. As I pulled my sled over this invisible line, I accomplished my goal: to become the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided. While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced. I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey. I’m delirious writing this as I haven’t slept yet. There is so much to process and integrate and there will be many more posts to acknowledge the incredible group of people who supported this project. But for now, I want to simply recognize my #1 who I, of course, called immediately upon finishing. I burst into tears making this call. I was never alone out there. @jennabesaw you walked every step with me and guided me with your courage and strength. WE DID IT!! We turned our dream into reality and proved that The Impossible First is indeed possible. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela. #TheImpossibleFirst #BePossible
Currently, Colin is unreachable in Antarctica and his Instagram account remains his only point of contact. While on his solo journey, Colin’s family, friends, and, fans, watched avidly via real-time online as Colin recorded the trek on his Instagram account.
Colin is currently waiting for a fellow trekker, Captain Louis Rudd, to also complete his own solo journey.
“I’m going to sit tight here at the finish and wait for Lou to complete his crossing,” O’Brady said via his more recent Instagram post.
“Captain Louis Rudd is one of the most accomplished polar explorers to ever live and a distinguished member of the British Special Forces. It has been an honor to strive for the same goal – the first to complete a solo, unsupported, unaided crossing of Antarctica. I’m looking forward to greeting him here at the finish line and congratulating him on his extraordinary accomplishment. We will step into the history books together as the only two people to have completed such a crossing.”
While others have completed solo journeys across Antarctica, they have been assisted in certain ways. According to the New Haven Register, these forms of assistance included “reinforced supplies or kites that helped propel them forward.”
In 2016, British explorer Henry Worsley attempted the crossing, but perished toward the end of the trek. His friend, Louis Rudd, is the man Colin O’Brady is currently waiting for at the finish line.