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    • NY Times had some interesting articles on the recent solo crossings of Antartica (Colin O’Brady Completes Crossing of Antarctica With Final 32-Hour Push..... https://nyti.ms/2GGsOwf and today's editorial.... The First Solo Antarctic Traverse...https://nyti.ms/2RxziBu). Dave Roberts makes some good points about what really constitutes a first, depending how narrowly you define things. In this case, it was the first "unaided solo crossing." But, who makes the rules for that sort of thing? The first article was somewhat dismissive of a Norwegian who made a solo crossing about 20 years ago, since he had some kind of aid from a kite. However, Dave points out that he also went twice the distance since he defined the crossing to include the ice shelves, which the early explorers also had to contend with. Furthermore, the recent record contenders had the benefit of modern communications technology and also followed a machine trodden track from the South Pole to the finish (note the tire treads in the photo). So, an incredibly difficult feat, yes. But, was this really unaided or a significant "first?" I guess you need that to get sponsorship and enough good press. Any other armchair adventurers out there care to weigh in?

    • BTW, hope I didn't violate any Cake rules with the photo. That's form the NY Times article, not from me. Wasn't sure how to credit it.

    • However, Dave points out that he also went twice the distance since he defined the crossing to include the ice shelves, which the early explorers also had to contend with. Furthermore, the recent record contenders had the benefit of modern communications technology and also followed a machine trodden track from the South Pole to the finish (note the tire treads in the photo).

      Reading about early Antarctic explorers like Shackleton and Scott, it's hard not to feel like what they did was far more worthy of note than more recent efforts like Colin O'Brady and Louis Rudd's solo crossings.

      Sure, Shackleton and Scott had other men with them, and sleds, and dogs, and so on. But they were also traversing greater distances and navigating unknown and unexplored terrain, without the aid of GPS or even weather reports, and with no hope of rescue if things went wrong (and oh boy did things go wrong).

      In those days, even getting to Antarctica was no small feat, as Shackleton discovered when his ship was trapped in the ice for ten months and finally sank. And that was just the beginning of their arduous journey!

      Certainly what O'Brady and Rudd did wasn't easy and took a great deal of courage, skill, and luck. But I have a hard time getting excited about it.

      What would really impress me is if someone replicated Scott's South Pole expedition with period-accurate equipment and no modern technology. Though I would happily allow the use of modern food rations and vitamins to avoid repeating Scott's fatal mistake!

      📷 Shackleton's ship, Endurance, sinking below the Antarctic ice in 1915.

    • I was fortunate enough to get to know Sebastian Copeland as he was working on his documentary INTO THE COLD about his expedition to the North Pole and capturing images of a rapidly vanishing environment. He's spent more than 20 years photographing these environments and has created a compelling body of work.

    • Thanks for posting, Vin. Crediting the New York Times for the photo is perfect. The only thing is you poked a 1-hour hole in my day as I got fascinated in these stories!

      These guys are so badass I can't even imagine how & why they do it. But I have to say that in terms of modern-day polar adventurers, I think Børge Ousland is the baddest of them all. He's had a few insane accomplishments on the North Pole too.

    • Wow!! And what a long list of accomplishments, authoring so many books. Mind. Blown.

      I would say they don't build them like they used to, but I see your Peter Freuchen and I can safely raise you Cecilie Skog. Cross Antarctica the long route unassisted with no kite? Check. The Seven Summits? Check. Across Greenland? Check. North Pole? Check! Overcame tragedy? Unfortunately and fortunately, check.

    • My feeling is that spirit of exploration -- both of our physical environment and also of human endurance -- will never go away. It's in our DNA.

      So I feel that the same spirit that moved Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay also moves Colin O'Brady. No quibbles there.

      The difference, as others have pointed out, is that we've shrunk the world. What once was unknown is now much better known and can be planned for.

      Which means, for me, that these kind of exploits almost fall into the cateogory of sports, as opposed to pioneering or exploration. They require courage and determination -- but typically they don't involve existential challenges.

      What does?

      Deep sea. Deep space. The men and women who go there go into the unknown. Truly existential challenges.

      Which is one reason (cost is another) why we send probes rather than humans down there and out there.

      So I admire the heck out of Mr. O'Brady. But I'm not in awe of him the way I am of Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen.

    You've been invited!