Army Captain Lou Rudd became first Briton and 2nd person ever to complete the 925 mile crossing of the Antarctic continent.
In what might have seemed a race of Britain vs USA, as American athlete Colin O’Brady was also attempting to complete the epic journey at the same time – with both finishing just 2 days apart. Having faced the most difficult conditions in all their expedition experience, it’s a great achievement for both to have completed the trek considering the odds stacked against them.
Lou was motivated to complete such an extreme test of strength and perseverance, after his friend and Polar adventure mentor Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsley, attempted the same feat – an unsupported traverse of Antarctica and tragically lost his life, falling short just 30 miles of completing what no man had before. Lou masterminded the ‘Spirit of Endurance’ expedition to follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton and complete his original mission to traverse the continent on foot.
He needed to use all the training and experience gathered from years of soldiering to fly the flag for the British Army; the genesis for his singular determination, unflinching discipline, preparation and distinct capacity to endure. “I skied through some horrendous conditions,” he said. “I would be skiing along thinking, ‘my God, this is the worst place in the world right now; this is horrific’.”
Despite the media attention caused by the global interest, Lou didn’t see it as a race to the finish line. “I didn’t want to get drawn into a race. I knew the expedition would be difficult enough as it was,” he said. “All that mattered to me was that I completed it, that I skied solo and unsupported, carrying the flag with Henry’s family crest.” It was only a few days before he flew out that he learned of Brady’s attempted so at that stage it was not wise to be enticed into a competition which could lead to taking risks with deadly consequences – ultimately it was all about crossing the finish line safely whilst also raising money for his chosen charities: The ABF Soldiers’ Charity and
Consuming 6,500 calories a day whilst burning upwards of 10,000 meant Lou dropped 15kg -around 2 ½ stone – from his body weight after the 56 day trek. His diet was not as ‘high-tech’ as some might think – his grazing bags of Asda tropical mix and bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, combined with cheese & salami bought en route in Chile kept him going. Just as important were the music and audio books which kept him company, Winston Churchill biographies being a favourite motivational tool.
Level Peaks Associates were proud to support Lou with much need funds as well as world-class clothing and equipment to help him complete the expedition. All of us here at LPA are proud of Lou and congratulate him on a successful expedition. We supplied Lou with a few specialist pieces of equipment as well as funds towards the cost of the expedition. We look forward to the next adventure!