Louis-Philippe Loncke Completes Another Monster Pack Marathon

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.