Gwent adventurer Richard Parks battles savage weather in Antarctic trek
5:10pm Wednesday 2nd January 2013 in Gwent news
ADVENTURER Richard Parks wished his fans a happy New Year on day 15 of his Antarctica adventure, but had to contend with atrocious weather in his trek to the South Pole.
With storms closing in, Parks was faced with a 'whiteout' where visibility is down to zero and had to battle howling gales. He said: "Progress was painfully slow. I had nothing to navigate off and with no shadows, you don’t even know what you are stepping on, you have to be so careful with every step.
It went on for about 2 hours and I carried on painfully slow. In the middle of all this I got vertigo, because I completely lost all the horizon and I felt like I was on a boat. I had about half an hour of vertigo where I was like bambi on my skis thinking the ground was moving underneath me."
The weather improved and he managed to cover more ground after only managing 3km in the morning.
The ex-Dragons player began his solo expedition to ski from Hercules Inlet on the geographical coastline of Antarctica to the geographical South Pole on December 18, easing into it with a six-hour day, skiing 15km.
His route to the South Pole will be approximately 1,200km or 745 miles and he hopes to complete his journey within 35-40 days.
He aims to build up his miles to reach 35km a day as an average target and on New Year’s Eve he skied 32.7km/20 miles.
He said on his blog: "Once again thank you for all your messages of support, I get them all and believe me they pick me up when things get tough.
"Wishing you guys health, happiness and prosperity in 2013, our journey together is only just beginning."
The former Newport rugby star’s latest mission got off to a difficult start just before he landed in Antarctica, when his kit, including the custom made pulk, a sled he uses to carry it all, went missing.
Parks arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile on December 7 but his freight’s journey wasn’t so successful and was eventually discovered back in London.
But a member of the 35-year-old’s team came to the rescue and flew out with all his kit except for the pulk which he had to borrow from the Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), who offer support and tours for expeditions to the region.
The adventurer has also discovered that if he is successful in his trip, he will become the first-ever Welsh person to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole.
He said: "The going is really mixed in terms of terrain from really hard and slippery ice, not blue ice, but hard ice to windswept snow, to quite soft snow.
“You always have to be on your toes as it can be different under foot.
"Having good visibility really makes a massive difference so I can maximise all my time on each two-hour stint of skiing.
"I have turned into a bit of a number cruncher, and I monitor my progress constantly."
You can follow Richard on Twitter @Richardparks