American explorer heads to North Pole as part of world record attempt

A professional triathlete is heading to the North Pole this week as part of his world record attempt to be the fastest person to complete the Explorer's Grand Slam.

Colin O'Brady will go from sea level to Everest to nail the Grand Slam in record time

Professional triathlete Colin O'Brady stands at the South Pole as part of his world record attempt to be the fastest person to complete the Explorer's Grand Slam. (Colin O'Brady)

Colin O'Brady is spreading the word on child obesity, and he's traveling the world to do it.

The American adventurer and professional triathlete is in the midst of the "Explorer's Grand Slam," a challenge to scale the highest mountains on each of the seven continents and reach both global poles. And he's trying to do it in record time.

He reached the summit of Mount Elbrus in Russia earlier in March and he'll be heading to the North Pole later this week. Along the way he's trying to raise $1 million to support children's health. 
Colin O'Brady stands at the summit of Mount Elbrus in Russia on March 11, 2016, as part of his Explorer's Grand Slam challenge. (Colin O'Brady)

"The focus is on kids but really it's for everyone," O'Brady said. "So with this campaign we've been trying to engage as many kids and families and people as possible to really just promote the outdoors and the amazing place it is."

On Thursday, O'Brady will fly to the Russian Barneo base – a temporary ice base rebuilt annually on the sea ice near the North Pole – then hop a helicopter to the 89th parallel before trekking roughly 110 kilometres to the pole. A month later, he's hoping to be standing atop Mount Everest.

Of the 44 or so people O'Brady says have completed the grand slam, few have done the North Pole and Everest one after the other. It's a grueling challenge.

"Most people who are climbing Everest this year leave about now. A big part of climbing it is getting climatized, getting up to progressively higher altitudes and getting your body used to it," O'Brady said.

"Unfortunately the North Pole's weather window is right now. So of course being right at sea level is the opposite of what most people are doing to prepare for Everest. It's kind of been a balancing act in my training."

The current record for the fastest Grand Slam is six months and 11 days. 

O'Brady's world record clock began ticking on January 11 when he reached the South Pole. From there, he has until July 20 to finish the challenge.

According to the website, only three Canadians have ever accomplished the feat.


Nick Murray


Nick Murray is a CBC News reporter, based in Iqaluit since 2015. He specializes in investigative reporting and access to information legislation. A graduate from St. Thomas University's journalism program, he's also covered four Olympic Games as a senior writer with CBC Sports.


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