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.
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.
What will they think of next? I'd call this assisted, but novel.