Interview with Louis-Philippe Loncke
By David Rutter
Louis-Philippe Loncke’s adventures are many and varied. He has crossed deserts, islands, trekked in the Himalayas and crossed Iceland. He has spent a lot of time in Australia, and is the first person to complete a solo unsupported trek across the West MacDonnell National Park, the first to cross Fraser Island unsupported, and the first to complete a north-south crossing of the Simpson Desert. Louis-Philippe hails from Belgium.
What adventures do you have planned?
I have about 20+ ideas right but I’m focusing on the Poland Trek (http://poland-trek.blogspot.com/) that will start early May. I started kayaking last summer on the canals of Belgium, this one will be much longer and harder as I’m be on a river. It’s also the first time I’ll mix different means of progression: on foot, by packraft and by kayak.
Alongside, I’m working on part II of my Iceland Trek expedition (http://iceland-trek.blogspot.com/). It has been delayed again this year as I need to find a technical partner to develop a new snowsled. After Iceland, I’ll normally go back to Tasmania, I promised to come back and attempt a winter crossing of the island.
What led to you doing so many adventures in Australia?
I came to Australia in 2004 as a backpacker and did about but found more as I discovered the adventure community. I came back for a year in 2006 and start the first expedition. Why did I start in Australia? It’s the place I had experience and I had been inspired by Jon Muir.
And I’m not finished with Australia and its desert or mountains. There a lot of adventure or scientific expeditions to do and a lot to explore especially in the North East of Western Australia.
What lead to the decision to cross the Simpson Desert, and the route you took?
The people who dropped me at the far West of the MacDonnells range I crossed walking, had just crossed the Simpson desert with their 4WD. They told me it was beautiful and I asked if there were any walking tracks. After viewing more photos of the Simpson, I finally found about a few people who crossed parts of it but mainly supported. And then I found Lucas Trihey’s trek from West to East unsupported and just believed it was more remote to attempt a much longer expedition from North to South. It was an entire year of planning but a major world first in my pocket.
The route planning is always the hardest, especially when there’s no money to go and see how it’s like before going. So it’s about finding the average distance possible, look at the maps and find out the fastest and safest route. You don’t need to be an athlete to do a world first, you have to want it, plan it very well and take a lot of risks. But when you are on the terrain, it’s there that you learn how to find the solutions to the best paths. I designed a cart that was very good in the valleys between the dunes of the Simpson but weak in the soft sand. The idea was a longer route on hard ground and only crossing sand dunes on the places they were low.
Why do you embark on your adventures – what motivates you to do it?
I go always to places that I believe are interesting to visit for me. But I like it when there’s a challenge but the challenge mainly came because of cost and ecology. Resupply underway costs a lot or can be nearly impossible. I embark because even after preparing for months I still have questions, and some questions will come during the expedition as well. The reward is to find all the answers to make the expedition a success. The last year I shifted more to the personal mission I have to make people more aware about the water protection. It’s not only consuming less but also not pollution the water that will enable us to survive. So what motivates is about the sharing of the values of the outdoor and responsible consumption. I still keep solo world first treks in mind for when I’m ready. For these expeditions, I do perform science tests to measure the effect of stress on the mind in extreme environment. It’s very interesting what the scientist come up with as results.
What do you like and dislike about it?
I like my passion and the choices of expeditions I make. No dislikes but certainly it can be more enjoyable if I had real sponsors paying me and perhaps a partner to share the adventure while doing it.
At The Outdoor Type we have delved into our memories to find our earliest memory of being in the outdoors. What is your earliest outdoor memory?
I remember my first scout camp at the age of 7. I was scared of everything, the forest, the dark, the sound of the wind in the trees, the insects… Now I have less fears or I’d say I shifted the fear to a higher barrier and I like to see how far I can put the barrier.