Louis-Philippe Loncke Completes Another Monster Pack Marathon

Photo: Louis Philippe Loncke

In his latest monster pack challenge, Louis-Philippe Loncke has become the first person to cross the Pyrenees unsupported. He completed the 800km journey from Hendaye, France to Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, in 43 days, following the Pyrenees High Route along the French-Spanish border. He began on July 26 and ending yesterday, September 6.

The trip was not without its difficulties. In the first half, he fell, sprained his ankle and struggled with the 48kg backpack and the friction it caused on his back. As he progressed, the weight decreased and he could move at a much faster pace.

Loncke summited Carlit on August 31 with his now-featherweight 20kg backpack. Photo: Louis Philippe Loncke

Things did not get easier during the second half of his journey. On day 26, he fell several times in rocky terrain when strong winds threw him off balance. A few days later, he fell on a steep descent, bumping his head. Then he lost his way. On day 30, more falls, bruises and cuts. After weeks of walking in the dusty heat, his legs were so dirty that he didn’t need to wear sunscreen.

Beyond Andorra, the terrain became easier, and Loncke could gobble up still more kilometres during his daily 12 to 14 hours of trekking. Despite the mega-days, he tried to avoid pushing on till he was blind with fatigue, to avoid the risk of injury from inattention.

By day 34, he reached a 2,700m pass during a hailstorm. The following day, he endured 11 hours of constant rain and thunder. “Not even Tasmania [in winter] gave me this,” he said. “I’m cold.” The gnarly weather continued for several days, with snow above 2,400m.

Two days left. Photo: Louis Philippe Loncke

By the last few days, he was running low on food and rationing became essential. He had lost so much weight, 11kg, that he felt like he was sleeping on his bones. Even the sugar high of chocolate and energy bars couldn’t restore his flagging energy. But he powered through and finished his journey and his 12th world first on day 43.

All Loncke’s firsts have been long, unsupported treks with small mountains on his back. For his winter Tasmania crossing, he carried 62kg, his personal record so far. Most pack weights have been in the mid-40 kilos.


About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around parts of Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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1 year ago

Hi more details and correct numbers are here. I’ll work in the coming days/weeks on daily distance and daily cumulative ascent/descent. Very happy of this 12th world first expedition. The last one with heavy backpack (above 40kgs) and long duration. This means I might still do short expeditions on 60kgs to bring gear to a place for a few days…even in the mountain area but seriously although I think it is possible to go for speed records at around 30 days with a 25kgs pack at the start, this expedition is so dangerous. You can die every day by a… Read more »

Eddy De Wilde
Eddy De Wilde
1 year ago

Massive effort from LP Loncke i can’t picture anyone wanting to copy this. Respect none the less!

1 year ago

Video on Belgian TV news (French speaking): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AutZq-72PEI