Billed as one of the most extreme locations in the world, Antarctica has seen its fair share of explorers — and fatalities. However, Colin O’Brady was still determined to beat the odds and cross the freezing continent alone. O’Brady now discusses his treacherous journey on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.
“You prepare, you dream, you imagine,” Colin says about his solo journey across Antarctica.
“But there’s nothing quite like getting dropped off in the middle of Antarctica by yourself and watching the plane and your lifeline to civilization kind of go off into the distance.”
Once O’Brady was left alone in Antarctica, the true struggle began. As previously reported by Inquisitr, Colin O’Brady traversed Antarctica starting in November of last year. He covered 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) of mostly uphill terrain. It took him 54 days to complete the arduous task and only just made it ahead of his friend and fellow adventurer, Captain Louis Rudd.
“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 his Instagram account upon completion of the journey.
The 33-year-old endurance athlete’s plan was to do what no one else had ever done before: travel alone and unassisted across Antarctica. Previous attempts had been made and many people had died during the process. As KOIN 6 points out, this is not the first time that O’Brady had done something daring. He currently holds three world records for the Explorers Grand Slam, the 7 Summits, and the US 50 High Points.
While some people have managed to cross Antarctica alone prior to Colin’s attempt, this was the first time it was a successful “unsupported” attempt.
“Unsupported means you need to travel nearly a thousand miles without getting resupplied,” O’Brady told Bryant Gumbel.
“So you need to have a really strategic plan of how many calories am I burning every single day because it is literally a math equation of ‘Can I fuel myself and move quickly enough to move across.'”
American Colin O’Brady becomes the first person to complete a solo journey across Antarctica, unaided and unsupported, after finishing a two-month expedition in frigid temperatures and winds of 30 mph. https://t.co/zGVrxRJzIm pic.twitter.com/rcXE56Wd4a
— ABC News (@ABC) December 27, 2018
During the segment on Real Sports, Gumbel also speaks to Louis Rudd about his solo expedition that ran concurrently and who finished not long after O’Brady. A celebrated war hero, Rudd has fought in most major conflicts over the last 30 years and certainly considered himself up for the task of crossing Antarctica alone. However, for him, this journey had personal reasons, too. He wanted to honor his friend, who had died two years previously while attempting the same feat.
“It made me all the more determined and I thought it would be quite appropriate,” he told Gumbel. “Right and proper if the first person then to do it is a friend, a fellow army officer.”
Colin O’Brady was just as determined, though. Previously, O’Brady had suffered severe burns and was told he might never walk again. It was the motivation he needed to make sure he not only walked again but did great things with his life as well.
The pair then discuss with Bryant Gumbel the finer details of such a trip. Considering they would have to bring everything they needed for the journey, both became obsessive with the weight of items and how much they would have to bring with them.
With food being the ultimate requirement, Rudd went so far as to cut the end off his toothbrush in order to “save a few grams.” O’Brady, on the other hand, didn’t even take a change of underwear on the 54-day trek. Even with these measures, both men’s supplies would still weigh approximately 400 pounds each. As a result of this, both men had to train ahead of time in order to drag such a heavy load.
The journey for both adventurers was often fraught with danger and life-threatening situations. Within the first couple of days, Rudd had managed to become separated from his tent after attempting to traverse the journey in small sections with half of his load in order to stop his supplies sinking into the snow. When a snowstorm hit, he nearly didn’t find his supplies again and vowed never to attempt the crossing in this manner again, instead opting to try and haul the massive load through the snow intact, at whatever cost.
Having to constantly watch their compasses during the crossing was another issue for both of the men. Each day they would watch nothing but their compass in order to maintain the correct passage across the snowy landscape. To do otherwise would literally have them moving off course so much that Rudd commented he was once going in the exact opposite direction to where he needed to travel.
The complete interview with Colin O’Brady and Louis Rudd will air tonight on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel at 10 p.m. and will cover more details of their amazing individual attempts to traverse Antarctica alone and unsupported.
Real Sports with Bryant Gimbel can be found on HBO. The series is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and on partners’ streaming platforms.