Boy ex­plorer is in Pole po­si­tion


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - SCOTT JONES

A 15-YEAR-OLD British school­boy is at­tempt­ing to be­come the youngest per­son to ski to the South Pole.

Lewis Clarke is to set off later this month on a gru­elling 1 182km, 60-day trek in tem­per­a­tures that can drop to -40ºC.

But Lewis has demon­strated his met­tle: he was 12 when he was a mem­ber of the youngest re­lay team to swim the 32km English Chan­nel.

His lat­est venture will take him from Union Glacier on the coast of west­ern Antarc­tica to the Pole, 3 000m above sea level.

Ac­com­pa­nied by po­lar guide Carl Alvey, he hopes to walk on av­er­age 20km a day, car­ry­ing equip­ment weigh­ing 68kg – and pos­si­bly con­fronting ap­palling bl­iz­zards.

The teen will be try­ing to beat the record set by Cana­dian Sarah Mc­Nair-Landry, who was 18 when she skied to the South Pole in 2005.

Lewis, a pupil at Queen El­iz­a­beth’s Hos­pi­tal School in the UK, is rais­ing money for the Prince’s Trust and has the back­ing of TV celebs and a num­ber of busi­ness spon­sors.

“Some peo­ple claim to have walked or skied to the South Pole, but have done only the last 160km or so. Mine will be the real deal – the full, mind-blow­ingly freez­ing, 1 182km trip from the coast of Antarc­tica all the way to the Pole.”

To add to the chal­lenge, Lewis is new to cross-coun­try ski­ing. He had his first lessons on Nor­way’s Har­dan­ger Plateau in Fe­bru­ary.

“It’s the place where Nor­we­gian ex­plorer Roald Amund­sen, who beat Cap­tain Scott to the Pole in 1911, trained. It was the only place where Amund­sen strug­gled and nearly died.”

In March, Lewis spent two weeks in Green­land. He said: “There was just one prob­lem – we had the most un­be­liev­able weather. No bl­iz­zard-force winds, no freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, just sun and clear skies. The sun made the scenery look glo­ri­ous, but for ex­pe­ri­ence it would have been good to see what re­ally bad weather can be like.”

Lewis and his par­ents are aware of the dan­gers posed by Antarc­tica’s bru­tal cli­mate, which has de­feated the most sea­soned ex­plor­ers, in­clud­ing Scott, who died there in 1912. “It’s the great­est ad­ven­ture of my life so far, and the great­est phys­i­cal chal­lenge, but there are real risks.”

His mother, Sarah John­son, said: “When Lewis said he wanted to swim the Chan­nel, like any mother I was wor­ried. Now he’s up­ping the ante, so there are greater wor­ries this time.

“But he’s trained hard and if any­one can do it, Lewis can. At least he’s do­ing some­thing amaz­ing rather than hang­ing around on street cor­ners or play­ing com­puter games all day. We’re so proud of him.”

His father, Stephen Clarke, added: “There’s no know­ing with Lewis, he’s so in­trepid. But what­ever he comes up with, we’ll sup­port him.” – Mail on Sun­day

SUR­VIVAL: Lewis Clarke, a 15-year-old school­boy, will set out on an epic record-break­ing Antarc­tic jour­ney to the South Pole.

AM­BI­TION: Lewis aims to be­come the youngest ex­plorer to reach the South Pole.

TRAIN­ING: Lewis had to learn cross-coun­try ski­ing.

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