British Army Capt. Louis Rudd on Friday became the second person to cross Antarctica solo and unassisted, two days after Colin O’Brady of Portland, Ore., became the first.
O’Brady, 33, and Rudd, 49, began the trek as a race on Nov. 3. Rudd finished his journey on Day 56 at the foot of Leverett Glacier, a little more than 48 hours after O’Brady completed his expedition.
“It’s nice, when you’re finished, that you’re in the polar history books,” Rudd said by satellite phone Friday night. “But it’s all about the journey.”
Rudd’s trek covered 925 miles, according to his main sponsor, Shackleton, a British apparel company. Like O’Brady, he did the journey solo, unsupported by supply drops or similar help, and unaided by kites or other devices to harness the wind to help pull his heavy load.
On Friday’s leg, Rudd said, he began stripping clothing off because the weather was so warm. The visibility, though, was pretty poor. “It wasn’t white out, it was a flat light,” Rudd said. “You could see the sky, but there was no light coming through the high clouds, so you couldn’t see the surface you were skiing over. It was really tricky, it was sort of a hard icy surface.”
Rudd learned about O’Brady’s finish soon after it happened, he said, through a message from his expedition manager, Wendy Searle. The two were reunited Friday.
Two times across
Although O’Brady beat him in this quest, Rudd is the only person to complete two traverses of Antarctica. His first was in 2017 with a team assembled from the British Armed Forces, and he led that expedition.
The British explorer boarded a plane for Chile on Oct. 25 and flew to Antarctica several days later. He set out on the cross-Antarctic journey at the same time as O’Brady and maintained the lead for about a week. O’Brady, however, caught up with Rudd on Nov. 9 and never let the British explorer get close to him again.
New York Times