The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone By Colin O’Brady

Reviewed by: 
Mary Anne

Colin O’Brady is an explorer and elite athlete who has set multiple world records. He has achieved many incredible physical feats in his young life, but the most punishing may be his quest to be the first person to cross Antarctica alone – pulling his own sled weighing 375 pounds across the continent in punishing conditions, completely self-supported. His journey became even more demanding when he found out it would be a race – another person was attempting the same thing at the same time. He would be racing against Captain Louis Rudd, a British polar explorer.


O’Brady describes the process of deciding on this journey, and his initial search for funding. Teamed with his wife, Jenna Besaw, he sought funding from various athletic clothing companies, as well as family and friends, a daunting task. Eventually the funders came through, and the race was on.


O’Brady describes his trip in detail, an incredible journey in a harsh and punishing environment. Antarctica is beautiful, but a beauty witnessed by very few humans. The pitfalls are many – frostbite, crevasses, food shortages, the terrible cold and wind, and the very fragility of life in such a harsh environment. As O’Brady pushes on across the ice, troubles beset him and his confidence sags. One small mistake can lead to another, and his life can be in danger in a matter of seconds. At times he feels that he cannot go on, but Brady has an inner strength that seemed to carry him over the rough patches. He is in awe of the Antarctic explorers that have come before him, studying them carefully before setting out on his own challenge. He has learned from their mistakes and experiences and is able to push on to the finish.


This is a very engaging book about never setting limits, and finding the courage to finish your quest. It is a highly recommended tale of adventure, for explorers and armchair travelers alike.

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