In 2018 Army Captain Louis Rudd became the first Briton to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica – relying on 6,000 calories a day, one pair of underpants and a handful of Winston Churchill biographies!
After reading about famous past explorers such as Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, Louis was inspired to join the Army at the age of 16 and take advantage of the Adventure Training Scheme.
Fast forward a few decades and he had completed his first polar expedition with friend Lt Col Henry Worsley, OBE. This expedition saw Louis getting his first taste of -45C temperatures, frostbite and dentistry skills after a frozen chocolate bar caused Lt Col Worsley to lose a tooth.
Sadly, Captain Rudd’s inspiration for the record-breaking expedition last year was the loss of Henry, who died while attempting to break the same record in 2016.
For Louis, the success of this expedition was based on years of preparation, training and minimising the potential risks as much as possible.
Unable to restock and consuming around 6,000 calories for 75 days and carrying lifesaving kit, Louis spent months reviewing his pulk (sled) and coming up with ways to make it lighter; cutting the handle off his toothbrush, cutting labels out of clothes and wearing the same clothes and underwear for two months straight.
Dropped off at the start point with the words of the pilot ringing in his ears “I just feel so sorry for you right now” Louis set off in the footsteps of his role models.
When asked what strategy he had and how he kept going, Rudd said he followed the rule of ‘11 more steps’ – scientists worked out that if Scott had taken 11 more steps each day of his polar expedition he would have made it home alive.
. . . 11 more steps later and Louis completed the expedition in 56-days, a new record!
Louis is now sharing his stories with children, the Armed Forces, businesses and members of the public to inspire them to keep developing their skills and achieve their goals – on a large or small scale. This extreme example of resilience, determination, commitment and self-confidence can form the basis of day to day achievements.
Louis’ talk took place on 26 March at Gordon Barracks in Aberdeen, hosted by the city’s UOTC unit. Unit CO, Lt Col Geraint Davies, said: “It has been terrific to have Lou visit us in Aberdeen, spending time visiting schools and talking to our Officer Cadets, Cadets and Reservists. He has an inspirational message, delivered in a humble style, making his remarkable achievements seem accessible to all.”