When You Race Across Antarctica, Remember Your Spare Skis

Antarctica (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

At the New York Times, read Adam Skolnick‘s interview with Louis Rudd and Colin O’Brady, the two men who set out from the Ronne Ice Shelf on the western edge of Antarctica on November 3rd, 2018 in a two-man race. Pulling all the equipment they’d need to survive for two months on sleds called pulks, which man would be the first to traverse Antarctica — the coldest continent on earth — in a solo, unassisted journey of 921 miles?

[Louis Rudd] I couldn’t retrace my track. I went back on the compass bearing. Visibility was like 10 meters. I was thinking, “This is getting quite dangerous now.” I’ve got no tent and no sleeping bag. I’ve literally got a down jacket and I’ve got some food. I’ve got a sat phone, but nobody is coming to get me in these conditions. It could be a couple of days in this sort of thing.

Without my tent and sleeping bag, I’m instantly in a survival situation, and I was conscious as well that the winds were really strong. There was a ski sticking up, but if that fell over, the whole thing could have been buried. It took me a long time to do the two miles. I was scanning and looking. I’d almost gone past it, which would have been fatal, but by pure luck, I turned my head toward a gap in the spindrift and saw a black shadowy sort of shape. Instantly turned, skied a couple hundred meters, stumbled across it. Relief.

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