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The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice—Crossing Antarctica Alone

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  685 ratings  ·  106 reviews

Colin OBradys awe-inspiring memoir spans his triumphant recovery from a tragic accident to his gripping 932-mile solo crossing of Antarctica.

Prior to December 2018, no individual had ever crossed the landmass of Antarctica alone, without support and completely human powered. Yet, Colin OBrady was determined to do just that, even if, ten years
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Scribner
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow. I gobbled up O'Brady's memoir of being the first person to cross Antarctica by himself, and unassisted by food drops, etc. While that is a main part of his book, it's also about so much more. He weaves in stories of past adventures and endurance trials. My biggest takeaway from this book was how much people can accomplish when they push harder than they think they can in pursuit of their dreams.

Recommended for fans of travel memoirs or anyone interested in trials of endurance. Fans of Jon
Lost in a Book
Still on a memoir kick, great listen.
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copies
The Impossible First is Colin O'Bradys memoir of his 932 mile solo and unassisted crossing of Antarctica.

Wow, Wow, WOW! This memoir is crazy inspiring! I was completely blown away by Colin's perseverance throughout these pages. The journey across Antarctica was such a mixed bag of emotions. I found myself laughing, gasping and crying - happy tears!

I really enjoyed all the flashbacks that come into play throughout Colin's story. It was interesting to learn how his journey began and what it took
Feb 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ideal read if you enjoy reading about a privileged, narrow sighted man who tries so hard to be inspirational he would risk the antartic dangers for it.

I wish I could return the book. I wish I could get back the time I spent on it. I hope to save you your time.

I'd highly recommend you look at the map of his trek and read what actual experts and explorers have to say about this "Brilliant" and "inspiring" man.
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Despite the book is about one persons trek across Antarctica, there is a great deal to read about. There are flashbacks that help fill out the story and understanding the motivation. There are a few spots of humor that remind you no matter how tough the situation is, humor comes into play. I chuckled about the tortoise race, the consequences of eating too much in a binge, and meeting supporters in the least likely venues. An uplifting read that makes your own day pretty easy to deal with. ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I *was* enjoying this book until I read the national geographic article about how a lot of the claims were exaggerated and key details were left out to make his feat seem more impressive.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I was all set to give this book 4 stars. Then I read the National Geographic article with other Antarctic explorers calling O'Brady out for not being totally honest/upfront about some of the details in his story (to be fair, he has written a 16-page rebuttal to the article).

My initial impressions of the book:
What he accomplished was truly amazing and really speaks to the power of a positive attitude - like his decision to push to finish the final miles of his journey with no sleep and just
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Despite many moments of cloying and didactic you-can-do-it-isms toward the end of The Impossible First, only a hard-bitten cynic could remain uninspired by O'Brady's mix of drive and doubt. The account of his solo traverse of Antarctica includes harrowing moments dramatically told, but the real surprise are the skillful pacing and deft interlacing of other moments in O'Brady's eventful life. The effective storytelling makes this book read like a page-turner.
Jess White
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I dont want to embark on this type of adventure, but Colins perseverance is beyond inspiring for any goal in life. I was riveted by his determination and mindset. While on a MUCH smaller scale, my greatest act of endurance has been marathon running. The mantra of many distance runners is mind over matter, the hardest part of running or any task. Doing that in Antarctic conditions is unfathomable, but admirable! Also, love the title! ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly an inspirational story. Not only the mind-boggling achievement of crossing Antarctica alone and unassisted, but everything that lead up to it. From his childhood and feelings of being from the wrong side of the tracks, to an accident that led to life-threatening burns, to his triathalon career, there is a lot to admire. It's impossible not be awed by the level of commitment and achievement. The actual telling and writing left me a bit cold (no pun intended); felt a little preachy and smug ...more
Lauren Bernard
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing survival story. I usually dont like nonfiction, but this was really interesting. ...more
Andrew Jones
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Couldnt put it down. Best of the year thus far. Always love my expedition tales. They make me squirm, sweat and sometimes cry. ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There were a couple swear words but overall a wonderful story of his Antarctic journey!
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Impossible First is the account of Colin OBradys world record setting first crossing of Antarctica - 100% human-powered with no aid along the way. But it is so much more. Throughout the recounting of an athletic feat that had come to be thought of in the adventuring world as impossible, Colin shares the rest of his story. His close family upbringing, even though his parents were divorced, and the stewardship for the environment they instilled in him. They encouraged him to always push ...more
Amy Rohn
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up.
Kimberly Jones
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whats your Everest? I cant stop asking myself this question! I want to throw on my hiking boots and hit the trails.
Incredible story of strength, love, and commitment. Completely inspired by you and your family!
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well written, enjoyable read--his personal life up to that point was interwoven with the story, thus we find out how he met his wife, how he got into the pro racing environment, where he got the money for his expedition, and his rationale for claiming "the Impossible First". (Did Shackleton have a SAT phone to call his wife every night...I can't remember... ;-) ). And I learned at least one new word -- sastrugi.
David Lewis
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very good. 4.5 read in two sittings as was such an enthralling journey.
Cathy Klein
I picked this title to read something out of the ordinary from my usual reading taste.

I think it is amazing what he did and the journey was interesting in how it brought up past memories that he wove into his retelling, but I wasn't crazy about how he read it for some reason. It was his story to tell so yes, he should have been the one to narrate it, but it almost felt like he was a kindergarten teacher reading to his class sometimes. Almost as he he was acting out his life as read by another if
Sean (Books & Beers)
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is an Easy 5. Outstanding on many levels. Emotional, raw, inspirational and overall just a good book. Really glad I had the opportunity to read this one and get an advanced review copy.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I reserved Colin OBradys new book from the library a couple of weeks ago after reading the critique of his first human-powered, unsupported solo crossing of Antarctica in National Geographic. (The Problem with Colin OBrady, I began following OBradys Instagram in the fall of 2018 when he was in the middle of the adventure and I marveled at his daily posts, his progress, and his eventual accomplishment. It seemed truly awesome and I admired him a great ...more
Sean Meagher
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
Okay, first of all, Colin O'Brady has written most of this memoir as if it were a motivational presentation given to middle schoolers. He possesses the awkwardly upbeat personality of one of those guys that goes door to door asking if "you'd like to learn more about the Church of Latter Day Saints." And he wears cargo shorts and flip flops. And he likes Sublime. I quickly accepted all of this, so piqued was my interest in this solitary endeavor he somehow completed. Here lies the real downfall ...more
In 2018, Colin OBrady, an endurance athlete, competed to be the first person to cross Antarctica unassisted and alone. It was a grueling journey, on the snow and ice, and in very cold temperatures. OBrady was a professional triathloner, and two years earlier he finished an Explorers Grand Slam, so he was physically fit.

But, being physically fit is not enough. An adventurer needs the mental ability to overcome his exhaustion and fears to continue forward. OBrady is fortunate to have a very
Dave Sloan
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Colin attempts to bear his soul in this adventure story, but I never really connected with his "why." Why does he create these challenges for himself? The challenges he chooses seem overly contrived to me - fastest to climb the tallest points in the US, fastest to complete the "Grand Slam of mountaineering," (7 Summits + N + S poles), and finally, crossing the South Pole unassisted, again, the fastest. I found it hard to sympathize with his vision - for example he charters a helicopter from ...more
AJ Dreadfulwater
What. A. Trek. I listened to this fascinating memoir within a 24 hour period of time and it just kept making me think that I have it pretty easy in this daily life here on an island in paradise walking dogs, cleaning houses, and personal training.

Here I was yesterday running only about 5-6 miles on what I consider a "longer" day with the dogs I walk and this guy is going over 900 miles across the entire continent of Antarctica...alone....and in 25+below zero weather. Welcome to another side of
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Though I certainly wouldn't classify this as a literary memoir, I can't help but give Colin O'Brady's new book five stars for its power to inspire alone. Written accounts of such extraordinary feats--in Colin's case the first solo, unsupported, unassisted crossing of Antarctica's landmass--are not uncommon, but what sets "The Impossible First" apart is the author's genuine desire to test the limits of his own human potential and inspire others to do the same: "... what had brought me to ...more
Olivia Lanaras
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a solid inspirational biography. I will almost never give one of these books anything higher than a 4, since they cant really engross me like a great piece of literature or fantasy, so this is a great rating.

Collin is a very cool guy, and being from Portland myself (even going to his same high school), I could see everything so clearly; not only did I see the places he described, but I knew guys like Collin. Maybe they didnt go to this extreme, but the distance runners on my track team
Sarah Engel
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book! When I was midway trough the book it good some bitter taste because of the harsh natgeo article about collin that came out. But after reading his statement and finishing the book I decided that for myself all of this is not important. I am not a mountaineer or climber and can barely imagine what youre body and soul are going trough in this conditions. For me the book was about setting yourself a goal and putting all the effort in to get to it. The question ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-the-year
Perhaps the book itself isnt quite 4 stars, but Colin OBrady certainly is. The Impossible First is about his solo unsupported trek across Antarctica, the first time that anyone has managed that feat. I was expecting a book filled with the drama and hardship that such a trip entails but that seemed almost incidental. Maybe OBradys ego isnt big enough. Except for a few significant incidents, he almost shrugs off the whole trip as just one step after another, two months of same old, same old. Much ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story of overcoming the obstacles that life throws at all of us, pushing out of our comfort zones and achieving the dreams that we must set from ourselves.

Really enjoyed reading this book, especially the last few chapters where everything comes together and Colin really highlights the importance of finding our Everest and doing everything we can to achieve our goals. Really appreciate that this book is about the crossing of Antarctica, but it's really a metaphor for any big goals and
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