Richard Parks’ South Pole bid put on hold

South Wales Argus: (2804962) (2804962)

THREE days into his latest record-breaking challenge, former Welsh rugby international Richard Parks has had to postpone the attempt due to severe weather.

Parks wrote on his blog that he was “gutted” to have to stop his first attempt to break Christian Eide’s Antarctic speed record as part of his aim to complete the fastest and longest solo, unsupported and unassisted Antarctic polar expedition in history.

But he said that due to the weather deteriorating badly, it is currently “impossible” to ski the miles he needs to and he has now returned to his starting base with the hope of starting the challenge again as soon as conditions improve.

Parks announced the two-part quest in October, known as Project X.

For the first part of the challenge, he will aim to break Norwegian Eide’s world record by completing the 1,150km (715 mile) journey in 23 days.

Eide set a new world record in January 2011 of 24 days, one hour and 13 minutes.

Following his Antarctic speed record expedition, 2014/2015 will then see Parks attempt to complete the longest solo, unsupported and unassisted Antarctic journey in history. This expedition will also have a unique twist, which is to be revealed next year.

Writing about the postponement of the challenge on his blog, he said: “The weather deteriorated badly. There had been more snow, total whiteouts, no contrast, no horizon and following a lot of snow I was skiing in powder so deep I was losing my skis.”

Parks had covered 25.4km on the first day after skiing for 6.5 hours and 27km on the second day after skiing for 9.5 hours.

But after doing three hours on day three of the challenge and covering 4.5km, he said he had to put his tent up due to conditions being too poor.

Describing the conditions as “just savage”, he said the snow was so soft and sticky that it almost trebled the weight of his pulk (sled) and because of the conditions he was struggling to move fast enough to generate enough heat.

Following discussions, he made the decision to ski back to Hercules Inlet where he had started the challenge to try and wait there for better conditions before attempting to start over again.

He will be provided with extra food so he will still have enough to last the expedition.

He said: “It was a really tough decision to make, I am gutted, but it’s the right one. It’s impossible to ski the miles I need to a day to break this record with conditions underfoot like they are and with weather conditions like this.”

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