If the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—by the likes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jules Verne—imagined a link between the polar regions and insanity, the Belgica expedition confirmed it. The decades of frenzied Antarctic exploration that followed the voyage cemented the continent’s reputation as an inherently maddening place. Still today in Antarctic research stations, as modern amenities dull the ferocity of the environment and digital communications keep year-round personnel in touch with the outside world, madness lurks in the corridors.
How do you choose your next adventure when there are so many options available?
Wizarding up ideas for adventures is one of my favourite things to do. I find it enjoyable, exciting, but also easy. If I was a specialist I would need to search for something higher, harder and faster within my niche every time I wanted a new challenge. But because I am a generalist, I make the next adventure more challenging by making it differently challenging to previous projects. It is an important part of keeping adventure fresh for me.
I am surprised how often people tell me that they really want to do an adventure but don’t know what to do. Hopefully this walk-through of the way I come up with ideas might get your own adventure cogs whirring…
- Cycling round the world
- The Marathon des Sables
- The South Pole
- The Arctic Ocean
- Rowing the Atlantic
Dr. James Bowyer, a medical doctor for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), tells of life in Antarctica.
Since 2019, Dr. Bowyer has been based at the Rothera Research Station, a centre for biological research and a hub for supporting deep-field and air operations.
Standing on the Devon coast, my phone rings.
“Hi James, we’d like you to look after Rothera for us. Are you happy to take the job?”
“Yes, of course!”
After an hour-long interview only that morning, I have just signed up to work in Antarctica for eighteen months, providing medical cover for a research station of 27 people in the winter, 160 in summer. I would be the only doctor for at least half of that time, with only narrow windows for medical evacuation in case something goes wrong. My patch in the summer consists of an area the size of Europe, with deep-field teams scattered in some of the harshest environments on Earth.
Following Colin O’Brady’s claim to have completed the first unsupported and unassisted crossing of Antarctica, the polar adventure world came together to point out the inaccuracies of the 33-year old American’s highly publicised and inaccurate claims. They then set about to develop a standard of definitions relating to polar travel.
So in the wake of the O’Brady saga, veteran polar guide Eric Philips, along with other senior members of the polar community, decided that standardization was overdue in the polar world. Over the past two years, they developed The Polar Expeditions Classification Scheme (PECS), which was launched earlier this week.
Via Vimeo »
Union Glacier camp is a seasonal, remote field camp in West Antarctica. It is one of my favourite places in the world, due largely to the wonderful people that run and pass through the camp.
I have been lucky enough to work there several times, and this film is a very short guide to the camp and some of the people who work there.
For more information about the camp please visit – antarctic-logistics.com/camp/union-glacier-camp/
This passion took on a new life when I was diagnosed with a benign tumor in my abdomen five years ago. After a painful surgery and treatment, I made the decision—while still recovering in a hospital bed—to apply to run the Marathon de Sables, a 155.5-mile ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert, starting in Ouarzazate, Morocco. I moved to Morocco to train and live in a tent among other female athletes from around the world, and ended up being the 16th female to cross the finish line after five days.
Adventure to me is about being idle. That doesn’t mean you have to go on a huge expensive expedition—you can simply just set up camp in the wild close to home for the weekend. It’s about getting outdoors and disconnecting from the pressures of mundane life.
But I wasn’t going to give up. In November 2019, I strapped on my skis and made my second attempt. This time around, for the first 500 miles, I was skiing at world-record pace. Then an injury, one they call polar thigh, set in. (The motion of skiing into a headwind or tailwind can compress your legwear, and if there you don’t have enough insulation or any cold air gets trapped, you can suffer from polar thigh.) For me, it started as these small clusters of ulcers on my leg, which continued to get bigger and bigger over time.
More » Jenny Davis (web site)
Six men, rowed their 29-foot (9-meter) rowboat for 13 days, to become the first to cross the Drake Passage unassisted.
Six men fought for 13 days to make history, becoming the first people to traverse the infamous Drake Passage with nothing other than sheer manpower.
They dodged icebergs, held their breaths as giant whales breached near their small boat and rode building-sized waves while rowing 24 hours a day toward Antarctica.
The team of men from four countries finished crossing the Drake Passage on Wednesday in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.
Colin O’Brady is a professional endurance athlete, motivational speaker and adventurer. He is a three-time world record holder, and just became the first person in the world to travel across Antarctica unassisted. In 2016 he set the Explorers Grand Slam and Seven Summits speed records.
Update added below.
According to his website, Colin O’Brady has completed the first-ever solo, unsupported, unaided crossing of Antarctica. He has reportedly arrived at the Ross Ice Shelf on the Pacific Ocean.
Using solely his own muscle power, O’Brady skied 932 miles pulling a 300-pound sled over 54 frigid days across the coldest, windiest, most remote continent on Earth, crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the South Pole. After a remarkable 80-mile continuous push over the last two days, almost five times his strenuous daily average, he emerged from the TransAntarctic Mountains onto the Ross Ice Shelf a little before 1 p.m. EST, December 26 and stamped his name into the annals of polar lore.
But was O’Brady’s crossing really unassisted? O’Brady and Rudd have been skiing on a packed road all the way from the South Pole to their finish line. Known as the McMurdo-South Pole Highway, or the South Pole Overland Traverse Road (SPOT), it is a flattened trail groomed by tractors towing heavy sledges. It conveys personnel and supplies from McMurdo Station to the South Pole. Flags every 100m or so make navigation easy during whiteouts, and all the crevasses were filled in by the original construction crew. Most importantly for a skier, it eliminates the rock-hard, bumpy sastrugi that the wind shapes out of loose snow.
“It is a highway,” says veteran polar guide Eric Philips, “[that] more than doubles someone’s speed and negates the need for navigation. An expedition cannot be classed as unassisted if someone is skiing on a road.”
In polar travel, while “unsupported” means no supply drops, “unassisted” additionally requires no outside help of any kind to make the distance easier: no kites, dogs, roads or navigation flags. Norway’s Borge Ousland crossed Antarctica alone and unsupported in 1996-7, but his journey is not considered unassisted because a kite towed him part of the way.
National Geographic also reported on O’Brady and Rudd during their treks in 2018, and when O’Brady completed his journey, described it as “historic” and “unsupported.” After reviewing those stories and gathering more information, we’ve amended them with an editor’s note.
Prominent leaders of the adventure and polar communities were less enthusiastic about O’Brady’s claims. Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, Mike Horn, Borge Ousland, and others spoke out against him, accusing O’Brady of exaggerating his accomplishment or worse.
Over the last several months, National Geographic has investigated O’Brady’s claims. He agreed to three phone interviews but recently stopped responding to requests for comment. We also spoke with an array of leading polar explorers, including some of O’Brady’s mentors, many of whom believe he has distorted the truth in pursuit of fame.
O’Brady “didn’t do what [he] advertised,” says Australian polar explorer Eric Philips, cofounder and president of the International Polar Guides Association. “This wasn’t some Last Great Polar Journey. Rather, it was a truncated route that was a first in only a very limited way.”
[Leandro] Martins is trying to go one step further than Daniel Burton, who was the first person to cycle to the South Pole, by passing through the landmark and onto the coast on the other side by covering.