The official time for Carmichael’s trip
was 39 days, 7 hours, 33 minutes.
The previous speed record, held by
British adventurer Hannah
McKeand, was 39 days, 9 hours, 33 minutes, set back
in 2006. Hannah was also solo and unsupported.
"I can only imagine how depleted he is,
but from his voice on the phone, you'd never know it," said
the singer-songwriter Lauren Hart, Carmichael's wife, who
spoke to him on Monday on a spotty phone call.
"He thought he could do it, but deep down,
when you get down into that kind of situation, I think that
he must have been thinking a few times, 'What am I doing here?'
Along the way, he had nothing but his tent to
shelter him and a sled’s worth of supplies, losing even his
ability to contact home.
That difference of 1 hour and 44 minutes
comes up to a difference of less than .2% of their time out
on the ice, or as ExplorersWeb put its: "If the same difference
was applied to a 100 meter dash, it would equal less than
He very nearly didn’t make it. By the end
of his odyssey, he had lost 40 pounds, run out of food and
frozen the tissue in his lungs from exerting himself to such
an extreme level for so long in the cold. “They said maybe
24 more hours and I wouldn’t have been able to breathe anymore,”
Not one but both of Carmichael’s phones
broke early on. He rigged up a way to send a beacon every
night, taping a solar panel to the broken phone and alerting
South Pole Communications of his position.
They could see that he was alive and moving forward,
but that was all. “What was frightening about that was that
I never heard any confirmation,” Todd
Carmichael said. “I never even knew if that signal
Carmichael, 45, who co-owns the La Colombe coffee
company, pushed off on skis from Hercules Inlet, on the edge
of Antarctica, on Nov. 12. After problems with his ski bindings,
Carmichael ditched the gear on Day Nine and walked. He averaged
about 18 miles a day through the world's harshest environment.
Carmichael spoke to scientists at Amundsen-Scott South
Pole Station about his experience. Wayne Moore, a physician's
assistant working at the pole, posted a medical update to
SubZeroSolo.com, Carmichael's Web site: "To all his very concerned
friends and family, he has made a rapid recovery from the
trip and has become a local hero at the station."
Carmichael, a 1982 graduate of Spokane's Ferris
High School, owns a Philadelphia coffee roasting business.
He was known as Todd McLaughlin, using his stepfather's last
name, when he ran on Ferris' 1981 state champion cross-country
"My brother is an adventurer at heart," said
his oldest sister, Lisa Wolfe, who lives in Spokane.
"He's done a number of things in his life
that are truly extraordinary, like going through Africa for
weeks and sailing through South Pacific islands for months
... and being lost at sea overnight without a boat off the
coast of France."
He practices and preaches low-carbon,
self-sufficient travel, she said.
"He said that before he got any older,
he wanted to do one really big adventure. He thought about
climbing Mount Everest but said a lot of people do that. So
he selected something so big and remote that few people have
Plagued with gale-force winds and equipment
troubles in the first days of the trek, he had indicated some
discouragement about beating the record. But improvised repairs
to ski bindings, poles and other gear enabled him to focus
on putting icy miles behind him while pulling a sled -- he
calls it The Pig -- that weighed about 250 pounds at the outset.
Carmichael celebrated Thanksgiving with three
freeze-dried dinners -- Mac and cheese, chili mac with beef
and beef stew -- after a brutal 19-mile day.
Even though he consumed food and fuel to make
The Pig lighter near the end, "The sled felt heavier than
it did on Day 1," he said.
After such a feat, what could possibly be
Carmichael's next challenge? "He's had a lot of time out there
by himself to think," his wife, Lauren Hart, told the
Philadelphia Inquirer. "Too much time to think. He'll come
up with something."