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From Fire to Ice--Crossing Antarctica Alone

by Colin O'Brady

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9821-3311-5
Publisher: Scribner

The tale of a solo trip across Antarctica, on skis and pulling a sled of supplies.

It had never been done before: to make a crossing of Antarctica alone, unsupported and unassisted, via the South Pole, a 930-mile trek in temperatures substantially below zero and wind chills doubling the cold. Undaunted, O’Brady, who experiences a “ferocious, uncontainable optimism that boils over inside me at the beginning of almost any new challenge or adventure,” has set a number of speed records in such events as climbing the tallest peaks on all seven of the continents and climbing to the highest ground in each of the 50 states. He is also a triathlete of note, so there was little doubt about his physical preparedness to take on the Antarctic adventure. When he writes about the “inspirational path of the polar pioneers before me, and what they’d taught the world about endurance, strength, and perseverance,” you know he is on solid ground. However, this adventure would take more than two months in a formidable, monotonous landscape. As we see, the mental challenges in dealing with such an environment occupied much of his time. O’Brady is a confident, crafty storyteller, and he has plenty of captivating stories to tell about his exploits and his family life, which he intertwines with his voyage. Many of his tales have an underlying theme of audacity accomplished through “grit, purpose, and a growth mindset.” He also has a charming partner in his wife, Jenna, and it is a pleasure to see them working together to get through the rough spots, whether winning over a new sponsor or talking the author through especially difficult moments. She helps to humanize O’Brady, so he is not simply a robotic master of control and discipline. This inner saga works hand in hand with the physical challenges to make for a full tapestry of remarkable experience.

A brutally sublime tale of derring-do that transports as well as teaches.