On 28 Dec 2018, after 56 days, Capt Louis Rudd became the first Briton to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported and unassisted.
Using all the training and experience gathered from his 33-year military career, Lou hauled 165kg of kit and food supplies for 1500km across the driest, coldest and most inhospitable continent on the planet.
Originally anticipated to take up to 75 days, to achieve this feat in 56 is extraordinary; although as a man inspired by his close friend and mentor, the late Lt Col Henry Worsley, and who was awarded an MBE for his polar exploration, Lou was well placed to make the attempt.
Due to bad weather on Christmas Eve, Lou skied from 2100 until 0500 on Christmas Day. Following a break for a few hours he continued til 1800 on Christmas Day, friends and family foremost in his mind. As he was reaching the end of the day, having spent it in whiteout with horrendous winds buffeting him and pulling the pulk around behind him, the weather cleared, the sun came out, and the Transantarctic mountains were suddenly lit up before Lou towards the top of the Leverett Glacier.
Lou planned then to complete the expedition within the next three days, knocking out a good 20 nautical miles each day. He said: “But hey, you never know with Antarctica, she may have other ideas, but that’s my plan. Let’s see if I can crack it.”
In a reflective mood, he continued: “You never know, this could be my last time in Antarctica, my last few days now out here, and I really want to just soak up memories and really make the most of this final bit of time out here. So, it was great; I’ve just been reflecting on the course of events over the last two months that I’ve been skiing across here. I’m really pleased. Loads of positives.”
Turning to the presence of American Colin O’Brady, a professional extreme athlete, who undertook the crossing at the same time: “What matters is that I’ve completed my expedition, and that’s the bit that’s really important to me. And we’ve both done it incredibly fast. [I did it] in 56 days, Colin a couple of days ahead of that. To be honest I’m quite pleased that I’ve finished it within a couple of days of a professional athlete, when I haven’t really been trying to race. I thought he’d be much further ahead than that, so I’m quite pleased with where I am.”
So are we all Lou; so very pleased you have made the crossing which meant so much to you. Many congratulations on this outstanding achievement.