He made it!
December 26, 2018 7:36 PM   Subscribe

(previously) In 54 days, about 11 fewer than he'd hoped, Colin O'Brady walked across Antarctica, unsupported. He's the first to do so.
posted by kneecapped (36 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Been following him on Instagram since his mother posted on FB about it - I went to elementary-high school with her but haven't met Colin or seen her in person for decades. Such an amazing accomplishment. Gotta feel for the other guy who was attempting the same feat having started within 10 minutes of Colin but apparently quite a ways behind him.
posted by leslies at 8:05 PM on December 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


"O’Brady could not immediately be reached for comment."
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:35 PM on December 26, 2018


The NYT managed to get a comment:
“I don’t know, something overcame me,” O’Brady said in a telephone interview. “I just felt locked in for the last 32 hours, like a deep flow state. I didn’t listen to any music — just locked in, like I’m going until I’m done. It was profound, it was beautiful, and it was an amazing way to finish up the project.”
There's a bit more in the article.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:07 PM on December 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


He made it! *flailing Kermit arms* Yayayayayay!
posted by hippybear at 9:43 PM on December 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


"The 33-year-old O’Brady documented his journey, which was almost entirely uphill"

A not entirely serious question: why didn't he go in the opposite direction?
posted by eye of newt at 11:03 PM on December 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's interesting. I remember him hopping off for Antarctica right after the implosion of his mother's campaign. At that point, the question was whether he could make the qualifications for the 2014 winter olympics. He chose another way. Way to go! In the time that I knew him, Colin and I never particularly jammed (classic computer geek vs. athlete dynamic), but I always thought he was a good guy.

So yeah, congrats Colin!
posted by LeRoienJaune at 11:49 PM on December 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


> Gotta feel for the other guy who was attempting the same feat having started within 10 minutes of Colin but apparently quite a ways behind him.

An amazing accomplishment by Colin O’Grady, and Captain Lou Rudd is still going strong. Even with high-tech gear (including satellite phones, GPS, and freeze-dried food), it could have been much, much worse for either man:
Tired, frozen, beaten: image of Captain Scott’s expedition that foretold a tragedy
The Observer, 11/12/2017

The photograph [link] is still one of the most poignant ever taken. Captain Robert Falcon Scott [WP], surrounded by four colleagues, poses at the South Pole, a Union Jack hanging limply in the background, on 17 January 1912. He and his men look haunted. Their expressions suggest weariness and defeat – as well they might.

Henry Bowers, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans and Lawrence Oates, along with their leader, had just tramped 850 miles over glaciers and ice fields in an attempt to become the first men to reach the South Pole, only to find they had been beaten by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. “It is a terrible disappointment,” Scott recalled in his journal, shortly after posing for the photograph.
All five died trying to make it back to their base camp, with Scott the last one. Among his last words:
For God's sake look after our people.
...
Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.
...
I have done this to show what an Englishman can do.
posted by cenoxo at 12:07 AM on December 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Any word yet from the flat-earthers on how he faked it?
posted by zaixfeep at 1:37 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


eye of newt: A not entirely serious question: why didn't he go in the opposite direction?

Maybe because he wanted the wind blowing at his back, but that also creates the upward waves of snow?
posted by leibniz at 2:01 AM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I followed him on Insta as well and the daily updates were a harrowing. At one point when he talked about something like it taking 1.5 hours to setup his tent in high winds and the "snow dunes" covering the area meaning that rescue would be impossible.

I read it, it sank in... and I was just quietly horrified that I might be watching a 1 frame per day video of someone dying.

So let me just say "Phew!"
posted by srboisvert at 2:36 AM on December 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


I only found out about this from this post, but I'm reading through the Insta in order now and loving it. Start here if you want to do the same.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:04 AM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just want to know if he packed out his poop. Otherwise, in 50 years when rich thrill seekers following his lead are doing this in droves (with much assistance), there's gonna be a trail of poop across the continent.
posted by sheldman at 5:14 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Re: poop, Is this a leave-no-trace expedition? Then there’s nature’s call. Yellow snow is tolerated, but all solids must be buried six inches deep.
posted by peeedro at 5:26 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Am sure he didn't pack his poop out. Last year I was camping on an ice field in the St Elias Mountains with a group of climate scientists and we dug latrines, did not fly anything out. And yeah - were flown in didn't hike in (too much science gear to consider skiing/climbing in). I don't think anyone expects some of these places to melt to the point where that's an issue even with the amount of warming happening.
posted by leslies at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


The 33-year-old O’Brady documented his journey, which was almost entirely uphill

If he went across the entire continent, didn't he start and end at sea level?
posted by M-x shell at 6:22 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Since Antarctica is at the bottom of the Earth, wouldn’t it have been downhill for the first half and uphill for the second?

But seriously, amazing accomplishment and I’m glad he survived.
posted by ejs at 6:48 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Any word yet from the flat-earthers on how he faked it?

Those FE people are crazy, but NASA did fake his GPS track and timeline. Only a few of us know that he also had to walk around the rim of the South Polar Hole.
posted by cenoxo at 7:04 AM on December 27, 2018


It’s an amazing feat and he deserves congratulations but I hope nobody else ever does that ever again.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:26 AM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Both men also had to resist temptation when they reached the south pole, where there is a small scientific station. If they had gone inside, or accepted even a cup of tea from the team working there, their trip would no longer have been considered unsupported.
Doesn't taking an airplane home count as support? Or is he solo-piloting a plane he hand-assembled from raw materials as well? Once you've gotten to the pole, surely the story is over. Okay, maybe you ought to walk around the station and touch the pole itself first, but that's an extra five minutes. Then you can grab a hot cocoa and some postcards in the giftshop.
posted by eotvos at 9:01 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


He gets to be a Brakebills upperclassman now, presumably.
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:04 AM on December 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Over the years I've known people who have been inspired by Shackleton and other explorers of the arctic and antarctic regions. I never got it. WTF? I would never make any effort to explore places without any living things. I love this planet, but mostly for the living organisms which live here. Barren frozen areas -- what's there but various permutations of frozen water?
posted by Agave at 9:20 AM on December 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Antarctic trekking across barren frozen deserts is not just a guy thing: let us not forget the Ice Maidens.
posted by cenoxo at 12:50 PM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here's a blog post from John Fegyveresi (incidentally, one of the very few finishers of The Barkley Marathons) on meeting Henry Worsley at the South Pole as Worsley made his Trans-Antarctic crossing. Describes how they could talk with him, but not offer any assistance or such.
posted by maupuia at 1:05 PM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Over the years I've known people who have been inspired by Shackleton and other explorers of the arctic and antarctic regions. I never got it. WTF? I would never make any effort to explore places without any living things. I love this planet, but mostly for the living organisms which live here. Barren frozen areas -- what's there but various permutations of frozen water?

I feel you but I tend to sit staring at a rectangle with various permutations of electrocuted sand most of the day.
posted by srboisvert at 1:13 PM on December 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


British Antarctic Survey > About > Antarctica > Why Antarctica matters:
Antarctica is a remarkable continent – remote, hostile and uninhabited. This frozen continent is key to understanding how our world works, and our impact upon it. Antarctica is important for science because of its profound effect on the Earth’s climate and ocean systems. Locked in its four kilometre-thick ice sheet is a unique record of what our planet’s climate was like over the past one million years.
Antarctic science has also revealed much about the impact of human activity on the natural world. The discovery in 1985 by scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica revealed the damage done to the Earth’s atmosphere by man-made chemicals.

As well as being the world’s most important natural laboratory, the Antarctic is a place of great beauty and wonder. Its frozen wastes have fired the public imagination for generations, and around 30,000 tourists now visit the Antarctic each year to experience what life is like in the Earth’s last great wilderness. However, Antarctica is fragile and increasingly vulnerable.

The UK has been a world leader in Antarctic science and exploration for more than two centuries. As the UK’s national Antarctic operator, BAS has been responsible for most of the UK’s scientific research in Antarctica for the past 60 years. BAS now operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica.

As well as conducting globally important science, BAS helps protect Antarctica’s pristine environment. It fulfils this stewardship role by working to the highest environmental standards in all its operations and by playing a leading role in the Antarctic Treaty – the world’s most successful international agreement. The UK was the first nation to sign the Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection, which commits Treaty parties to the environmental protection of Antarctica – a continent that few of us will ever visit, but on whose continued health we all depend.
More about the British Antarctic Territory.
posted by cenoxo at 1:20 PM on December 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: a rectangle with various permutations of electrocuted sand
posted by cenoxo at 1:29 PM on December 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Mrs. 4ster and I were reading about this last night. Just amazing, inspiring, and humbling.
posted by 4ster at 2:18 PM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Latest update on Rudd:
19MI TO COMPLETION
892 MILES TRAVELLED

TEMPERATURE -28°C
WIND CHILL -37°C
DAY56
SOUTH POLE ARRIVED DEC 13
CROSSING ETA DEC 29, 2018

Almost there...
posted by cenoxo at 11:35 AM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Re: poop, Is this a leave-no-trace expedition?

No. From Day 36's post:

Apparently there have been many people curious about how I use the bathroom 💩. This seems like a good time to address this as the last degree has special rules. Normally I just dig a hole in the snow, take care of my business quickly (and try not to get frostbite 😉), then cover it back up with snow and ice. However, no human waste can be left behind in the last degree to preserve the pristine beauty of Antarctica. As an environmentalist, I love this ethic. Practically speaking, it’s a little undignified as it means pooping into a “wag bag” and carrying it with me. So sadly my sled won’t be getting much lighter each day as I cross the last degree now on both sides of the Pole...

---

So, if you're feeling record breaking, a leave-no-trace, unsupported cross-Antarctica trek is still out there for the taking.

Personally I'm content to complete 2 leave-no-trace commutes back and forth to the office every day.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:38 PM on December 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I moved to Europe 3 years ago and have lived in several different countries with less harsh winters than my own home state.

I’ve had bronchitis 3 times, many colds and flu-like things (am currently heading into week 3 of a nasty virus that won’t go away) yet back home only every had the flu once and never had bronchitis, maybe a cold every year.

I think I would have gotten sick on day 2 of this. Probably some ancient strain from Shackleton’s trip would come back to life just to infect me.

Bravo explorer endurance man! May your immune system be ever in your favor.
posted by sio42 at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2018


Antarctica can be beautiful indeed:
Despite our speed, [the jagged line of witch-like cones and pinnacles] were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitely far off, and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of phantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation; as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality.
posted by doctornemo at 1:53 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Louis Rudd made it too! (Phew.)
posted by kneecapped at 10:00 PM on December 28, 2018


No also-rans in this race.
posted by cenoxo at 10:14 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The making-it is what counts. The not-making-it is a non-trivial outcome.
posted by hippybear at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2018




Besides Børge Ousland's sail-assisted crossing, there's also Cecilie Skog and Ryan Waters who crossed together unsupported, unassisted, without aid of a kite or sails, from Nov 2009 to Jan 2010. I think what O'Brady and Rudd were able to do is amazing, but some perspective and skepticism about the social media hype doesn't diminish their accomplishments.
posted by peeedro at 12:43 PM on January 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


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