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A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon

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Athletes & Explorers

Jul 08, 2019

Introducing Alone Across Antarctica: The Full Story and Controversy

The greatest living polar explorers weigh in on the head to head race across Antarctica that ended in controversy.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

On December 26, 2018, American Colin O’Brady completed a 54-day expedition across Antarctica, covering over 930 miles while hauling a 400-pound sled packed with all of his food and survival gear. O’Brady faced an ungodly windchill, the threat of unseen crevasses and utter isolation.

In a head to head competition mirroring the race to the South Pole between Amundsen and Scott in 1911, O’Brady flew in the same Twin Otter aircraft with veteran polar explorer Captain Louis Rudd to ski from the Hercules Inlet to the start of the Ross Ice Shelf in a race to the record books. O’Brady finished two and a half days before Rudd, claiming a new world record, “The Impossible First,” to be the first person ever to cross Antarctica alone, with no support and no assistance.

O’Brady hauled all of his own food and survival gear in a 400 lb. sled.

No one can deny the mental and physical fortitude these men displayed over the course of two months in the most inhospitable environment on the planet. 

However, shortly after Colin O’Brady and Captain Rudd flew back to civilization, O’Brady’s “Impossible First” claim was disparaged by journalists and other established polar explorers. Did O’Brady and Rudd complete an official polar traverse from coast to coast? Was their journey truly “unsupported,” or does their route along the South Pole Overland Traverse cheat the record?

Controversial articles disparaging O’Brady’s claim for a true crossing of Antarctica.

The Outdoor Journal interviewed Norwegian legend Børge Ousland, who completed the first solo crossing in 1997 with no food drops or resupply, but with the use of a wind sail. 

Ultra-adventurer Mike Horn, who holds the record for the longest solo crossing of Antarctica without resupply, also weighed in on whether O’Brady made a legitimate claim for this new solo, unsupported and unaided record.

In addition to these polar giants, we’ll hear directly from Colin O’Brady and Captain Rudd about the challenges they faced on their expeditions and their responses to the controversy surrounding their claims. Finally, we’ll analyze each of their arguments to determine O’Brady and Rudd’s rightful place in the history books.

From left to right: Colin O’Brady, Louis Rudd, Borge Ousland, Mike Horn.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll publish the following content to cover the full spectrum on Antarctica:

  1. Monday 8th July: Introducing Alone Across Antarctica Series 2019
  2. Wednesday 10th: Unbreakable Colin O’Brady Achieves the Impossible Once Again
  3. Monday 15th: For the Love of the Journey: An Interview with Captain Louis Rudd
  4. Wednesday 17th: Nowhere to Hide on Antarctica: Børge Ousland’s World Record Legacy
  5. Monday 22nd: Mike Horn’s Race Against Time
  6. Wednesday 24th: The Impossible Truth on Antarctica

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Athletes & Explorers

Aug 24, 2019

Rhiannan Reigns Supreme: Red Bull Cliff Diving

Rhiannan Iffland's perfect dive from the Mostar Bridge secures her fourth World Series win in a row.

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WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

It’s official, Rhiannan Iffland is the greatest living female cliff diver on the planet. Minutes ago, she soared from atop the world-famous Mostar Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina and landed over 21 meters below with a perfect score.

Undefeated in 2019, Rhiannan has won all seven stops on the Red Bull World Series this year, from El Nido, Palawan to the final stop in Bilbao, Spain. Although today’s competition was the second to last stop on tour, Rhiannan seized her grip on the King Kahekili trophy, her fourth in a row, with an even 1,000 points accumulated over each stop.

The Stari Most is a rebuilt 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina that crosses the river Neretva and connects the two parts of the city.

In addition to her seven straight victories, Rhiannan also achieved the first-ever perfect score for a female athlete on her final dive today – four 10’s – which added up to the highest ever competition score for a female athlete.

“To finish on four tens, I’m still pinching myself,” Rhiannan shared in her post-dive interview with Red Bull.

Rhiannan comes up all smiles after she lands a dive on day one of competition.

With her first win at Mostar today, a UNESCO heritage site, Rhiannan can now claim dominance at every stop on tour.

Since entering her first Red Bull competition as a wild card in 2016, Rhiannan has been an absolute force. With this win, Rhiannan proved that she can perform when the pressure is on as well as when she’s earned a victory lap.

Read Next on TOJ: Film Review: Extreme Cliff Diving in The Outback

Rhiannan Iffland of Australia prepares to dive from the 21 meter platform in Raouche during the final competition day of the fifth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Beirut, Lebanon on July 14, 2019.

“That wasn’t really running through my mind, the overall series win, but to finish it at the penultimate stop is really special. I came in here this weekend knowing that I’d have to be extra mentally strong and that was my game plan, to dive like I have been diving the rest of the year.”

Even though the first place trophy is all but locked up in her trophy case back home in Newcastle, New South Wales, Rhiannan still has a chance to attain the perfect season with another win at Bilbao on September 14th.

Rhiannan Iffland of Australia poses for a portrait in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 2, 2019.

“Halfway through, I started to think about a clean sweep, an undefeated year and that’s now the goal, especially after coming here and achieving this. I think it’s looking pretty good so I’m going to train really hard in the upcoming weeks to Bilbao.”

Rhiannan Iffland dives from the 21 metre platform on Stari Most during the first competition day of the sixth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 23, 2019.

If you’d like to learn more about Rhiannan’s proud heritage as a native Australian, check out her Rainbow Dive documentary set in the outback.

To follow along with the career and training of such a dominant champion, check out Rhiannan’s social media.

Instagram: @rhiannan_iffland
Facebook: @rhiannanathlete

Photos courtesy of Red Bull

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