Boy explorer is in Pole position
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.