PK Podcast 012: Lou Rudd On Unsupported Polar Journeys and Retracing Amundsen’s Route To The South Pole

PK Podcast 012: Lou Rudd On Unsupported Polar Journeys and Retracing Amundsen’s Route To The South Pole

Lou Rudd, face tanned, wearing hat and duvet jacket against backdrop of polar landscape
Lou Rudd is returning to Antarctica after retracting Roald Amundsen’s route to the South Pole in 2011/2012. Photo courtesty of Lou Rudd
Lou Rudd joined the UK armed forces at the age of 16, where he has served a full career, spanning nearly 25 years. During his military career Lou completed many tours in extreme cold weather environments, some inside the Arctic Circle. He is a qualified military ski instructor and an Arctic Warfare instructor.

During the winter of 2011 and 2012 Lou, along with Henry Worsley, completed an 800-mile unsupported journey following the original route of Roald Amundsen from the Bay of Whales to the Geographic South Pole as part of the Scott Amundsen Centenary Race.

Lou is currently preparing for a new unsupported South Pole expedition, which he will lead. I caught up with him to discuss his Antarctic endeavours and our conversation forms Episode 12 of The Paul Kirtley Podcast…

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Click here to read or download the transcript of Paul Kirtley Podcast Episode 012 with Lou Rudd

Man hauling pulk in Antarctica
Travelling unsupported to the South Pole means hauling everything required for the 800-mile journey, including enough food and fuel for 70 days. Photo courtesy of Lou Rudd.
Three men hauling pulks in Antarctica, with milky sun through clouds
The Scott Amundsen Centenary Race consisted of two teams of three men, retracing the routes of Scott and Amundsen, respectively. Photo courtesy of Lou Rudd
Hilleberg tent on the polar ice in Antarctica
Camping for 70 nights in a mountain tent requires routine and good admin. Photo courtesy of Lou Rudd
Sastrugi in Antarctica
Sastrugi. Photo courtesty of Lou Rudd
Lou Rudd, man with balaclava covered in frost
100 years after Scott and Amundsen made it to the South Pole, the conditions can be just as harsh. Photo courtesy of Lou Rudd
Man in red parka pulling pulk with yellow cover on white snow against vivid blue sky Antarctica
Man and pulk. Hauling all the food, fuel and equipment to the pole burned up around 10,000 calories per day. Photo courtesy of Lou Rudd.

Links For This Podcast

Spear17 Facebook Page
Spear17 Just Giving Page
Hilleberg Tents
Kirtley Kettles
#AskPaulKirtley on iTunes

Thanks For Listening!

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Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog

How To Live In A Heated Tent

How To Dress For Cold Weather: COLD or COLDER…

Cold Injuries: Take Care In The Blue Zone

Fjelltur: A Norwegian Adventure

Equipment For Ski Touring Adventures In Norway

9 thoughts on “PK Podcast 012: Lou Rudd On Unsupported Polar Journeys and Retracing Amundsen’s Route To The South Pole

  1. Hi Guys! Great Podcast and photos-contemporary equipment, supply, and logistics barely make such a feat easier than the original SP expedition effort. What incredible courage. No matter what-if you plan to do these activities great or small the key remains plan well and execute the project forward. Youth and
    physical endurance mandate the subject!
    A wilderness mountaineer forced to retire salutes you all
    Jim Watkins-Pacific NW
    PS I still hear the whistles of high alpine marmots echoing across the glaciated peaks.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Thank you again for an entertaining and informative podcast. It is a testament to Lou Rudd and his team that they were able to follow Amundsen’s route to the exactitude of being able to find Mount Betty and that tin of paraffin and dog food left there over a hundred years ago. It is also a testament to Roald Amundsen’s safety margins and leave no trace practice it being the only thing he left behind.

    Off the bat I must recommend a book, it is my favourite book: ‘Scott and Amundsen: The Race to the South Pole’ by Roland Huntford first printed in 1979. This is a history book but it is also about leadership and personality. I was prompted to read this book after watching ‘Shackleton’ starring Kenneth Brannagh. It is extremely readable (at least once you get past the early years stuff of both Amundsen and Scott). It is well researched and full of quotes from original sources. I find it completely convincing because of its level of detail. It is in the form of a ‘compare and contrast’ between Scott and Amundsen. Let’s face it, any explorer would come off worse in a comparison with Amundsen. Not only his safety margins but his planning in general, his style of leadership, his recruitment, his attention to detail, his respect for local knowledge, his sense of mission, his hardiness, his sensitivity, in all of these Amundsen was way out in front … But I am getting carried away.

    Correction: the Fram was not the boat that took Amundsen through the North West Passage, that was Gjoa although Gjoa is also on display at the Fram museum in Oslo. The Fram was originally Nansen’s boat the one that was designed to be ice-bound that Nansen used in his polar drift to the North Pole.

    Amundsen and his men used dogs, sledges and skis from the outset. Scott started off with tractor, skis, dogs, ponies and man-hauling and ended up man-hauling without skis.

    Amundsen’s daily calory intake was 4560. Scott’s was 4430. Amundsen needed 4500 for the work he was doing. Scott needed 5500. Amundsen’s basic sledging ration per man was 400gm biscuits, 75gm dried milk, 125gm chocolate, 375gm pemmican, a total of 975gm.

    Amundsen attended to every little detail concerning equipment constantly adapting it and refining it in the light of experience including the sledge runners.

    Bjaaland one of Amundsen’s men produced a box of cigars when they reached the pole. He himself didn’t smoke but he had brought it all the way with him as part of his personal weight allowance for his compatriots to celebrate. Morale! Morale! Morale!

    Amundsen’s diary entries were in the form of a ship captain’s log, short and factual describing the going, the weather, notable events, etc.. He didn’t write with an audience back home in mind.

    Radio had just been invented but Amundsen decided not to take a radio set. Their expedition lasted years as it set off from Norway first and over-wintered on the Barrier. Amundsen reasoned that a message from home saying a family member was ill could have a morale-lowering effect.

    I could say a whole lot more about Roland Huntford’s book but I shouldn’t. Sorry to have gone on about it. Thank you again for a fascinating and stimulating podcast. I always get something out of them despite my limited experience, there’s always something, some nugget that inspires me.


  3. That was amazing! Really enjoyed it. The best podcast so far. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Brilliant podcast and photos Paul and Lou.
    Have listened to this a couple of times now. Gives great insight into what is needed, what is done, and how. Humbling.
    Thank you.
    Look forward to the follow up (before and after trip). Safe trip Lou and crew.

  5. Yet another superb conversation Paul. Each episode is surprisingly unique and across such a range of subjects and contexts, from the practical to the academic.

    I may just be missing it but wondered if it’s worth attaching a date stamp to each podcast in the future? Might just help put them in context for anyone listening to them someway down the line. If this info’s already here and I’m just being unobservant apologies.

    Can’t get enough of these.
    ATB, Dan

    1. Hi Dan, thanks for your comments and feedback. Good point re timestamps. The year is in the URL but not the month. Something for me to think about….



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