A British Army Captain has completed a solo Antarctic crossing, with the help of Boris Johnson's Winston Churchill biography.
Louis Rudd has became only the second person in history to cross Antarctica solo and with no external help.
Captain Rudd, 49, started his trek on November 3 at the same time as fellow adventurer Colin O’Brady, from Portland, USA. The ‘Spirit of Endurance’ expedition was a world-record attempt to be the first person to ski alone over 1,000 miles across Antarctica, unsupported and unassisted.
Mr O’Brady reached the finish line just 48 hours ahead of Captain Rudd, who spent 56 days on the frozen continent before finishing at the foot of Leverett Glacier.
Captain Rudd, who never considered himself to be racing O'Brady, saluted the American’s achievement in his expedition blog, saying: "it's always been about completing the journey".
"Fantastic, well done to him,” he said. “He'd pushed really hard all the way across and done extremely well, so congratulations to him."
The veteran of multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan ascribed the self-discipline and mental and physical robustness needed to haul a 140kg sled across 932 miles of ice and snow to his 33 years in the Royal Marines and Army.
Writing during his journey he said he kept himself going by listening to music from the 1980s and audio books about Churchill.
“I find that’s quite good actually, particularly when you’re on your own, to actually to hear a voice talking, it’s a bit of company,” he blogged from the ice.
“I listened to an audiobook – a biography of Churchill. I’ve actually got two or three audiobooks on him which I’ll be listening to throughout the journey. One of those was written by Boris Johnson.”
Both Captain Rudd and American Colin O’Brady completed their epic journeys totally unsupported by supply drops or specialist equipment to harness wind power, which could help drag their sleds.
Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph from his tent at the finish point, Captain Rudd, an ambassador for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, said he had never seriously considered turning back.
“I had some really hard days where I thought it might not be feasible to get across.
“On one day I battled for eight or nine hours and covered two nautical miles. I thought ‘this is ridiculous’, stopped and put the tent up. I still had 800 miles to go. Eventually I made better progress and it was back on.
"Going solo unsupported across Antarctica was one of the great final Polar journeys that hadn’t been accomplished, so the temptation to come down and have a go at it for me was overwhelming.”
Throughout the journey, Captain Rudd, a married father of three, carried a flag bearing the family crest of his friend and fellow soldier Henry Worsley, who died in 2016 attempting the same challenge. Mr Worsley had died of an illness having been rescued just 30 miles from the finish line.
Prior to his departure Captain Rudd said he had sought the approval and blessing from his friend’s family.
"I'm carrying Henry's flag... that he carried on all his journeys, and it's really important to me that, this time, the flag goes all the way, and completes the journey right to the end," he said
“Hopefully I’ve done you and Henry proud," he blogged to Joanna Worsley, "with what I’ve achieved and got the flag to the far side,” he said.
Talking of his love for the vastness and isolation of Antarctica, Captain Rudd said: “It’s a real raw beauty and completely untouched by mankind.
“There’s always a sense that the place can kill you within minutes. The slightest mistake can have grave consequences. You always have very healthy respect for the great white queen.
“I’m not there to conquer Antarctica - I hate that term, do not ever be so arrogant to say that you can go down and conquer Antarctica. If you’re lucky she’ll let you in to achieve your objectives. The trappings of civilisation are soon cast aside in the face of stern realities."
He told the Telegraph: “It’s been eating away at me that as a close personal friend of Henry, having served in the army for a long time with him and having skied with him to the South Pole in 2011, it will hopefully bring a bit of closure to Joanna. It feels like my destiny to come down and complete this journey.”