“We all have reservoirs of untapped potential. The biggest thing standing in our way? Our minds.”
Life has taught me one essential truth: the human spirit is boundless.
Just when you think we’ve reached the absolute pinnacle of what’s physically possible, someone performs a feat so utterly mind-bending you’re left breathless. The skies of perception part. Blanketed in awe, we’re compelled to re-evaluate our own personal capabilities. And humanity is left just a little bit better than it was before.
This is the sensation I experience when I spend time with Colin O’Brady — a former Yale swimmer turned professional triathlete turned elite adventure athlete with 4 breathtaking world records to his name.
Colin’s latest jaw-dropping feat of athletic prowess, stunning endurance and sheer human will was becoming the first person in history to cross the continent of Antarctica solo, unsupported and unaided. Under nothing but his own power, Colin pulled a 300lb sled 932 miles in just 54 days across the coldest, windiest, most remote continent on earth from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the South Pole.
Colin first appeared on the podcast in December of 2015 (RRP 207) — a deep dive into his unique upbringing on a commune; how he survived an almost lethal burn accident that left him unlikely to walk again; his phoenix like transformation into a professional ITU triathlete and Olympic hopeful; and how he morphed into a mountaineer with the audacity to attempt incomprehensible feats of adventure athleticism.
After conquering the Explorer’s Grand Slam, a challenge that encompassed scaling the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and treks to both the North and South Poles, Colin returned to the podcast in June of 2016 (RRP 235). Among the 44 who have completed the EGS, only 2 have done it under a year. Not only was Colin the youngest person to successfully complete this most prestigious undertaking, he crushed the world record by a stunning 53-day margin, completing it in a mere 139 days. Along the way, he simultaneously broke the 7 Summits world record by two days.
Today he returns to share his most remarkable achievement to date, a freeze solo adventure he dubbed the Impossible First. It’s a jaw-dropping story you might have seen unfold in real time on Colin’s Instagram (@colinobrady) or in the stellar 360-degree New York Times coverage penned by my friend (and former podcast guest) Adam Skolnick.
Uncovering the why behind the expedition, we explore how he dealt with the gear, solitude, -80F temps, and 30 mph headwinds. He explains why to sweat is to die. We discuss his battle against the elements and British Army Captain Louis Rudd — the legendary explorer who also set off the same day with the same goal in his heart. We talk about Colin’s final day 77-mile, 32-hour superhuman push to the finish. And Colin explains how a phone call with a certain musician changed his entire perception on who he is.
But mostly this is about a man who uses endurance and adventure as art that speaks to the heart and soul of the human experience.
I sincerely hope you enjoy this extraordinary tale of an extraordinary human — an inspiration to millions and someone I’m proud to call friend.
Peace + Plants,
Photos courtesy of Ali Rogers
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support the sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
New York Times Articles by Adam Skolnick
- No One Has Ever Crossed Antarctica Unsupported. Two Men Are Trying Right Now
- Crossing Antarctica: 7 Takeaways From the Solo and Unsupported Journey
- Racing Across Antarctica, One Freezing Day at a Time
- How We’re Covering the Race at the Bottom of the World
- Sports: Tracking the Race Across Antarctica
- Colin O’Brady Completes Crossing of Antarctica With Final 32-Hour Push
- Reflections on Antarctica
Background, Context & Reference:
- The New York Times: The First Solo Antarctic Traverse
- National Geographic: Free solo across Antarctica
- National Geographic: Explorer completes historic Antarctic trek
- Outside Online: How to Fuel for a Solo, Unassisted Antarctic Crossing
- Forbes: Resolve, And The Right Food, Helped O’Brady Conquer Antarctica
- Red Bull: Meet the man who climbed America’s 50 highest summits in just 21 days
- Men’s Health: Meet Colin O’Brady, the American Who Crossed Antarctica ‘Alone, Unsupported and Unaided’
- Mens Journal: The Behind-The-Scenes Drama on Climber Colin O’Brady’s Record-Shattering Expedition
- Mens Journal: Colin O’Brady Completes Everest, Makes His Final Push to Denali
- Mens Journal: Everest 2016: 7 Climbers On Their Biggest Challenges
- HuffPost: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Conversation with Colin O’Brady
- FOX: Adventurer Colin O’Brady on climbing world’s seven summits, breaking two world records
- People: 7 Summits, 2 Poles: Mountaineer Colin O’Brady on Track to Shatter World Record in Epic Adventure
- WashingtonPost: Six months, seven mountains, two poles — and the pursuit of one record
- GoodDayLA: Colin O’Brady on Climbing World’s Seven Summits, Breaking Two World Records
- CBS News: (VIDEO) Setting An Epic World Record
- TODAY: (VIDEO) 1st explorer to trek Antarctica solo and unassisted shares story
Adventurers Challenge: Explorer’s Grand Slam
- Endurance Event: ÖTILLÖ – Swim Run World Series
- Nutritional Supplements: Standard Process
- Album: Graceland (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)* by Paul Simon
- Book: The Alchemist* by Paulo Coelho
Notable People Discussed
- Jenna Besaw: executive director of Beyond 7/2, Mrs. Colin O’Brady
- Captain Louis Rudd MBE: retired British Army Captain, veteran Antarctic explorer and second person to cross Antarctica solo and unassisted
- Adam Skolnick: Award-winning journalist, Author of One Breath* and Indolirium*, Ghost operator on Can’t Hurt Me* and podcast guest
- Kílian Jornet: professional sky runner, trail runner, ski mountaineer, long-distance runner and podcast guest
- Alex Honnold: professional free solo rock climber (Free Solo the Movie) & podcast guest
- Des Linden: USA Olympic athlete, long-distance runner, won the 2018 Boston Marathon, becoming the first American in 33 years to win the woman’s category in the event and podcast guest
- Jack Dorsey: co-founder and CEO of Twitter, founder and CEO of Square and podcast guest
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, OBE: English explorer and holder of several endurance records, writer and poet
Børge Ousland: Norwegian polar explorer, photographer and writer; first person in the world to do a solo crossing of the Antarctic
Ben Saunders: English polar explorer, endurance athlete, and motivational speaker
Steve House: professional climber and mountain guide
- Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Edward Henry Worsley, OBE: was a British explorer and British Army officer. He was part of the successful 2009 expedition that retraced Ernest Shackleton’s footsteps in the Antarctic. He died in 2016 while attempting to complete the first solo and unaided crossing of the Antarctic
Sir Edmund Hilary: was a mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest
- Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister CH CBE: was a British middle-distance athlete and neurologist who ran the first sub-4-minute mile. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres and finished in fourth place
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #235: Colin O’Brady Shatters The Explorers Grand Slam World Record: Ruminations On Risk, Limits, Fear & Giving Back
- RRP #207: Colin O’Brady’s Attempt On The Explorers Grand Slam World Record
- RRP #375: How Des Linden Won Boston: Lessons On Big Goals, Showing Up & Loving The Work
- RRP #351: Alex Honnold: The Free Soul Of Free Solo Climbing On Fear, Risk, Mindset & What It Means To Be Truly Alive
- RRP #417: Kílian Jornet: Summiting The Mind Of The World’s Greatest Mountain Runner
- RRP #364: Hilaree Nelson On The Virtues Of Living An Adventurous Life
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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