Since the early 20th century, Antarctica has captivated adventurous minds. The first expedition to reach the South Pole was led by Roald Amundson, a Norwegian explorer. Amundson’s party reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911, five weeks before Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed expedition which claimed the life of Scott and four companions; perhaps most notably Captain Lawrence Oates.
Whilst many expeditions have taken place with various formats and routes, to this day nobody has successfully completed a full solo and unpowered traverse of the Antarctic. An Ambassador of The Soldiers’ Charity, Captain Lou Rudd MBE, intends to change that.
After being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June earlier this year, Lou received his MBE from Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace yesterday and ended the day with his exhibition launch at BAFTA, Piccadilly.
On November 1st. Lou will set off on his expedition, Spirit of Endurance, to become the world’s first person to cross Antarctica on foot, alone and without support. The expedition is named after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. Shackleton’s story is one of courage, bravery and determination; traits that Lou Rudd will demonstrate throughout his own expedition.
Hauling a 150kg ‘pulk’ of kit and food supplies, Lou will traverse 1,500km (roughly the distance of London to Naples). Starting at Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice Shelf, it will take Lou around 75 days, and all of his resolve, to reach the Ross Ice Shelf. In doing so, he will carve his name into the history books forever, serving as an inspiration for others to follow.
“Within the Polar community, Antarctica is known as ‘The Great White Queen’, and like a siren song, she draws you back. I absolutely love the sheer vastness of Antarctica. It blows me away every time, and without even knowing it, I’ve probably been preparing for ‘Spirit of Endurance’ for well over ten years now. It has always felt like my destiny.”
Rudd’s polar experience qualifies him for this expedition; he has trained in arctic warfare for over 30 years during his time with the Army, and he has also led a team of 6 Army Reservists on the Trans-Antarctic SPEAR17 expedition last year.
Spirit of Endurance is supported by Shackleton, a high-performance British clothing brand. Ian Holdcroft, a co-founder of the company said: “From his bespoke kit and meticulously structured diet to the painstakingly detailed refinements he has made to his pulk (sledge), Louis’s whole preparation for Spirit of Endurance is about identifying critical marginal gains. Each tiny detail is a testament to his tacit knowledge of Antarctica and we’re incredibly honoured to be a part of the next chapter in this great adventurer’s life.”
Spirit of Endurance will raise money for our charity and The Royal Foundation’s Heads Together mental health campaign.
To follow Spirit of Endurance and Captain Louis Rudd’s every step, visit: https://shackletonlondon.com