200 years ago to the day, the continent of Antarctica was discovered, arguably kicking off the race to the South Pole that culminated in the golden age of Polar exploration. The expeditions of men like Peary, Nansen, Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton have inspired adventurers to this day. For them, it was all about being the first to achieve something – first to cross Greenland, first to the Poles or first to cross Antarctica. Since then, Polar exploration has become it bit more confusing. Here’s my attempt at explaining the history and what to look out for when reading about Polar – and especially Antarctic – expeditions.
The polar exploration community is currently buzzing with news about Colin O’Brady and Loius Rudd. Both are taking on a challenge nobody has successfully completed, yet: a solo traverse of Antarctica via the South Pole, unsupported, and using only human power. You can follow Lou Rudd’s journey on his sponsor’s website, and Colin O’Brady on his Instagram or his own website. These expeditions stand out because they are one of the last supposed firsts out there to achieve for polar explorers. Since the first humans set foot on the Antarctic continent explorers have always found ways to add more challenges to their journey or make it unique in some way or another to qualify for that precious “first” label. Let’s take a look at some notable firsts in Antarctic history.