Some teenagers are content with simply learning to drive, getting a job and hopefully finding a date for the prom. But British teen Lewis Clarke has much more adventurous aspirations in mind. The young man, who hails from Bristol, is about to attempt to become the youngest person to ski to the South Pole – a distance of approximately 700 miles through some of the harshest environments on the planet.
Lewis left home for Punta Arenas, Chile this past weekend and he is in that small town now. Punta Arenas serves as the gateway to the Antarctic and it is a common place for polar explorers and adventurers to stop in before leaving for the frozen continent. Lewis will spend the next few days sorting his gear, preparing his supplies and trying not to think about the hundreds of miles of frozen expanse he’ll have to cross just to reach his goal. Once he gets word of a good weather window, he’ll then hop a flight, along with his guide Carl Alvey, for the permanent camp located at Union Glacier near the Antarctic coastline. After a day or two there, it’ll be on to Hercules Inlet to officially launch the expedition.
Once underway, Lewis and Carl will face the usual array of Antarctic challenges. In addition to having to ski long distance each day for more than a month while dragging heavy sleds behind them, they’ll also endure high winds, sub-zero temperatures, blizzards, whiteouts, high winds and more. Antarctica is the highest, coldest, driest desert on the planet and it doesn’t tend to be all that hospitable to visitors.
Lewis, who by his name alone seems like he was born to be an explorer, will be chasing the record set by Sarah McNair-Landry back in 2005 when she made the same journey at the age of 18. Considering our intrepid young Brit just turned 16 yesterday, he’ll have her beat by more than two years, provided he can complete the entire journey.
As if skiing to the South Pole weren’t a big enough challenge, Lewis is also attempting to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust, a non-proft dedicated to helping underprivileged youth develop the skills they need to compete in the modern work force.
Once all of his gear is packed and ready, Lewis will just be waiting for that weather window to allow him to fly to Antarctica. That could take a week or more depending on how bad the conditions are there. To follow his progress all the way across the frozen continent, visit Lewis’ Youngest To The South Pole blog.