Stop saying Colin O'Brady crossed Antarctica!

Many news outlets reported today that Colin O’Brady became the first man to “cross Antarctica alone and unaided.”

However, if you look at the map of his route, he took the the shortest path to the South Pole, turned right and headed for the coast, cutting off roughly a thousand miles if he had continued from one side of Antarctica to to other. It is the equivalent of walking from Daytona Beach to Tampa Bay, Florida and claiming you walked across the country.

Skiing over 930 miles of Antarctica alone is a laudable feat, to be sure, but let’s not overstate the accomplishment. By no stretch of the imagination did O’Brady “cross Antartica”. To cross a continent, you have to follow a more-or-less straight route that passes through or near the center. O’Brady did neither.

So, what would constitute a “crossing”? You’d start on the north side, and finish on, um…

You just head south 'til you can’t keep from heading north…

The next guy can brag about doing it without shortcuts. :slight_smile: I hear what you’re saying but do you have better phrasing for a news article trying to get headlines and eyeballs?

IMHO “crossing the Antarctic” is well within literary license or reporting shorthand. Most folks have no idea how big it is so skiing over 900 miles “captures the spirit” of “crossing the Antarctic”, at least for me. That is the equivalent distance of going from Mobile Atlanta to Chicago Illinois, which is crossing the US from S to N.

Since this is the Dope, I would point out that Daytona Beach to Tampa Bay is only about 180 miles, and I’m pretty sure it never snows in that area.

Yeah, on balance - coast to coast, crossing the pole, and not turning sharper than 90 degrees - I think it’s reasonable to call that a “crossing”.

Perhaps “across the Antarctic” instead?

But If you did that from the Indian Ocean side, it would be twice as far, because the South Pole is not in the middle of Antartica.

Not taking unnecessary risks by being out there longer than he needs to seems like fine forward planning to me. He’s also there in summer, does that also count against him somehow?

I say give him the points.

Related question: You stand at the South Pole. The exact spot is right in front of you. So you walk around it in a complete circle, thereby giving you bragging rights to have walked all around the world. Or at least some people would try to pull that off. How far north would you have to go before “walking around the Earth” was an impressive feat? (Walking-sailing combo probably.)

IMO, “walking around the Earth” needs to be as close to a great circle path as possible. 20000 miles, minimum, closer to 24000 is preferable.*

“Across Antartica” needs to be a straight line, preferably through the South Pole, or at least ending as close to 180 degrees from your start point as possible.

Saying he traveled 930 miles through or over Antartica is acceptable, use not as headlinable.

*Yes, I know. Oceans. Still the question was “walking around the earth.”. Not my problem we can’t walk on water.

I have to agree with the OP. If he’s the first to go to the South Pole and back alone, fine. That’s great. If he’s not, then, well, he’s not the first anything.

You can’t say you went across something when you stayed in a small corner of it. Across means something close to the diameter, not the two shortest radii.

I wouldn’t care so much if it were close to the right length. But the diameter is twice as long as his full trip. He made a trip halfway across Antarctica.

I’m just trying to figure out why anyone would care what they call it. I guess it’s just easier to tear down someone else’s accomplishment than do something yourself.

I say give him the award.

Would it help if I didn’t care either way?

Why “through the South Pole”? No other continent would have such a criterion. If you wanted a criterion for “continent crossing,” probably the best one would be a route that passed through the geographical center.

The continents are so varied and irregular in shape that it’s tough to come up with a technical definition that makes intuitive sense. For example, does a trip from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson’s Bay count as “crossing North America”? I think intuitively most people would consider a crossing to mean traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific somewhere north of Mexico.

Crossing the Antarctic will get easier with global warming.

^^Maybe. It might also involve a lot of island hopping.

Antarctica has the distinction of being the only continental land mass with one of the poles, so I think that is why it would generally be included as one of the criterion for crossing (altho falsely, I believe). However, I do agree that cutting across any part of any continent could be counted as a “crossing”.

I agree with the OP, tho. He made it halfway across Antarctica to the South Pole, and back. Good on him!

“Mobile Atlanta”


Really, if the guy had just turned left at Albequerque…

But seriously… When people swim the English channel, we still give them credit even though they don’t chose the widest portion of it, right?

Personally, my criterion for a trip to count as “around the world” is that the path must contain at least one pair of antipodal points.

I’m not sure what I’d use for “crossing a continent”, though.

That’s what makes doing it on skis so impressive.