NEWPORT adventurer, who is currently in the Antarctica, suffers a major weather setback meaning his new expedition hangs in the balance.

Richard Parks, former Welsh international rugby player and BAFTA nominated television presenter, is currently undertaking an expedition to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.

He has two aims: skiing one of the toughest polar expeditions on the planet as fast as possible and in doing so provide learning opportunities for both young people and business leaders, using adventure to inspire them to have the courage to think beyond boundaries.

After the disappointment of last year’s expedition ending early, due to his body showing significant strain, Mr Parks felt like he had unfinished business and was determined to make another attempt to complete the journey from Hercules Inlet, on the coast of Antarctica, to the South Pole.

Richard set out from Hercules Inlet on December 17, carrying 27 days of food. He was aiming to better his current British record of 29 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes and, if weather conditions were kind, to get close to Christian Eide’s world record of 24 days 1hr 13 min.

Yesterday, his team estimated that he had around 150km left to ski. However, hit by a whiteout, he was unable to see the terrain well enough to navigate the uneven surface of the Antarctica and suffering with fatigue meant he had to stop skiing after six hours. The day before he was able to ski for 18 hours.

“I’m well, just suffering a little. Making slow progress due to conditions (high gusts, whiteout) but mostly fatigue (sleep deprivation and calorie deficit),” he added.

Today, his team say he has made it to the last degree latitude, crossing into the 89th degree at around 11am. Food rations are a concern, as he looks ahead to the final 70 miles to the pole and a new British record in Antarctica. 

Adventurers seeking to complete the epic journey from coast to pole in Antarctica solo, unassisted and unsupported must carry everything they need. Food is one of the heaviest items to carry as Richard must eat over 7000 calories per day and carrying more weight makes it harder to ski fast.

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If Mr Parks runs out of food, he will call on Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE), his logistical partner to arrange a food drop. ALE and Parks have planned for several contingencies. If Parks takes a food drop, his expedition will not longer be classed as ‘unsupported’.

Reflecting on his current position in a message to his family, he said: “This is Antarctica! I’m healthy, in good mind and although gutted, strong in will”.

The challenge is ongoing and there will be further updates to follow.