Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Belgian Adventurer Completes Traverse of Tasmania

Back in July we told you that Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke was setting out on what could be his most difficult and demanding expedition to date. At the time, Loncke, who has traversed multiple deserts on foot –– including Death Valley and the Simpson Desert in Australia –– was setting out to cross Tasmania in the heart of winter. The trek was so daunting, that even he wasn't sure if he could do it. Now, that journey has come to a successful conclusion and it was just as difficult and demanding as he expected.

Australia's ABC News has an update on Loncke's Tasmanian traverse expedition, which took 52 days to complete. In reaching the finish line, he became the first person to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of the Australian state in winter, which is the coldest and wettest season of them all. The expedition officially began back on August 5 in the town of Penguin and ended yesterday in Cockle Creek in the far south of Tasmania.

According to the story, Loncke had to deal with deep snow –– at times up to his waist –– as he hiked through the remote regions of the island state. He also crossed through thick forests and circled wild lakes as he made his way south, completely alone. To complete the journey in an unsupported fashion, he also had to finish the traverse without receiving resupplies of food or fuel, and not sleep anywhere but in his tent.

When he set out, the Belgian's pack weight an astonishing 60 kilos (132 pounds), and included food for 44 days. By the end, he was running out of supplies and had to ration remaining food and fuel to see him to the end. He told ABC his dinner near the end was often hot water and a couple of aspirin, while breakfast was usually a small handful of nuts. As you can imagine, this caused him to lose a great deal of weight as Lou-Phi emerged from the wilderness some 15 kg (33 pounds) lighter than when he set off. He also came out bruised and battered, both mentally and physically.

Loncke's expedition wasn't just about becoming the first to cross Tasmania in winter. He's working with a team of scientists back in Europe to research how the brain makes decisions while under stress. While on his trek, he conducted a series of tests which will help researchers to better understand what extreme situations do to our ability to concentrate and focus, something that wasn't always easy while out in the field.

For now, Loncke is enjoying a hot shower and warm food as he begins the recovery process from such a difficult journey. He will stay in Australia for a few more days before heading back home to Belgium next week. You can read more about his harrowing expedition here. Congratulations to Louis-Philippe on another amazing accomplishment. Well done my friend.

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