Newport adventurer pressing on with South Pole quest

South Wales Argus: ADVENTURER: Richard Parks is battling -35 C temperatures with “extremely strong” winds in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet ADVENTURER: Richard Parks is battling -35 C temperatures with “extremely strong” winds in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet

ADVENTURER Richard Parks faces the prospect of more heartbreak in his attempt to break the world record for the fastest unaided expedition to the South Pole, unless he receives help from mother nature on his perilous journey.

The former Welsh rugby international had this week travelled 232 miles out of 715 miles on day 11 of his bid to reach the pole in 23 days.

The ex-Newport Gwent Dragons star has been battling -35C temperatures with winds of 20 knots in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet including crevasses putting him in danger every day.

His team said yesterday he would need “a bit of luck from mother nature” to beat the 24 days, one hour and 13 minutes record set by Norwegian Christian Eide two years ago.

Last month, Richard was forced to abandon his Antarctica bid on day three of the challenge due to “savage” weather conditions.

The undeterred adventurer returned to base at Hercules Inlet and re-started the challenge on December 5.

In January, the former Monmouth school pupil also had to abandon an attempt to ski solo to the South Pole after running out of time.

Writing on his blog on Monday, the 36-year-old said: “Good but hard day. Snowed again and reunited with my old friend Sastrugi. 11.5 hours skied, 40.1km covered.

“Tired but good. It’s snowing now.”

In 2011, Mr Parks became the first person to person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents and stand on all three poles within seven months as part of a feat dubbed the “737 Challenge”.

He raised around £360,000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care charity.

A spokeswoman for Mr Parks said yesterday: “He is doing really well considering the conditions but the margins for success and failure are very small on this expedition.

“He will have to put some big days in during the remaining days left to break the record.

“Any bad weather and conditions for just one or two days can put the record attempt in jeopardy. He needs a bit of luck from mother nature too.”

Mr Parks’ Antarctica speed record bid is part of a two-stage quest plan, which could see him attempt to complete the fastest and longest solo, unsupported and unassisted Antarctic polar expeditions in history.

The spokeswoman added: “Every day is a threat to his safety which is why he has to manage his systems really well to avoid frostbite, excessive sweating and so on.

“There are crevasses on route he has to navigate every day.

“These conditions are some of the most hostile on the planet.

“Every day he gets out of the tent he is in theory in danger.

“But this is what he has trained for and prepared for.

“He has experience of operating in these conditions and it just comes with the territory when performing in polar regions.”

At the end of the season 1997–98, Richard was voted most promising player of the year by Newport RFC. But later he was struck down with injury.


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