Oregon Man Becomes 1st Person To Cross Antarctica Unaided

By Kate Davidson (OPB) and Crystal Ligori (OPB)
Dec. 26, 2018 8:44 p.m.

Colin O'Brady is a professional endurance athlete, a motivational speaker, a world record holder and, now, the first person in history to cross the continent of Antarctica alone and without wind assistance.

The 33-year-old Portland native set out on a brutal 921-mile journey across Antarctica in early November. He was alone and unassisted, dragging a sled weighing hundreds of pounds that contained everything he needed to stay alive in some of the harshest conditions on earth.


After 54 days, O'Brady succeeded Wednesday.

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Day 54: FINISH LINE!!! I did it! The Impossible First ✅. 32 hours and 30 minutes after leaving my last camp early Christmas morning, I covered the remaining ~80 miles in one continuous “Antarctica Ultramarathon” push to the finish line. The wooden post in the background of this picture marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, where Antarctica’s land mass ends and the sea ice begins. As I pulled my sled over this invisible line, I accomplished my goal: to become the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided. While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced. I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey. I’m delirious writing this as I haven’t slept yet. There is so much to process and integrate and there will be many more posts to acknowledge the incredible group of people who supported this project. But for now, I want to simply recognize my #1 who I, of course, called immediately upon finishing. I burst into tears making this call. I was never alone out there. @jennabesaw you walked every step with me and guided me with your courage and strength. WE DID IT!! We turned our dream into reality and proved that The Impossible First is indeed possible. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela. #TheImpossibleFirst #BePossible

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Just days before he reached the finish line, OPB’s "All Things Considered" host Kate Davidson checked in with O’Brady at the end of a very long day.

“I managed to go 33.1 miles [today],” O’Brady said. “It was actually the longest day of my entire expedition.”

He went on to break his own personal best, trekking nearly 80 miles in his final sprint to the finish that began on Christmas Day.


O'Brady has been documenting his journey on his Instagram, keeping his followers updated on both the highs and lows of the adventure. He said one of the hardest parts of the experience is that it seemed to never end.

“There are no breaks, there’s no days off,” O’Brady said. “It’s just been a continual challenge that has pushed me and all my limits to its absolute extreme.”

But there was also a practical reason why O’Brady couldn’t take a day to rest.

“I haven’t taken a single day off in 50 days because if I do I’ll run out of food,” he told OPB.

O’Brady wasn’t just in a personal race against the clock. He was trying to beat a fellow adventurer, British Army Capt. Louis Rudd, who landed with him in Antarctica.

Before he set out, O'Brady dubbed the adventure "The Impossible First" because many people had told him it would be impossible.

“I wanna prove that it’s not impossible,” O’Brady said. “Not just for myself but for others who are daring to dream greatly in their own lives.”

Use the audio player below to hear the entire conversation with Colin O’Brady.