A disabled adventurer is aiming to complete the longest sit-ski expedition in the history of polar exploration.
Intrepid Darren Edwards, 32, is paralyzed from the chest down and has been living with a high-level Spinal Cord Injury since a near-fatal climbing accident in 2016.
Despite his disability he has already competed seven marathons in seven days, kayaked the length of the UK and skied across Europe’s largest ice cap.
He is now undertaking an epic mission to reach the South Pole – which will see him ski 333 kilometers (1092519.72 feet) in just 20 days in inhospitable -20 degree temperatures.
The furthest distance currently traveled by a sit-ski to reach the South Pole is 111K.
Darren will be supported by three close companions and experts in the expedition field – including his best friend who saved his life during his climbing accident eight years ago.
Darren, a former mountaineer and Army Reservist from Shrewsbury, said: “I’m going to be operating at the absolute limit.
“Part of the challenge is the hostile environment: it’s the windiest and coldest place on Earth!
“But I have gotten used to dealing with mental and physical challenges in my experiences in high stress and high pressure environments.
”I’ve learned to calm the mind by reaffirming however challenging the moment is right now – I’m lucky to have this opportunity.”
The adventurer is no stranger to epic expeditions, however, as Darren already has several world record challenges to his name.
In June 2021, he became the first person with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to Kayak 1,400 kilometers from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’ Groats in Scotland – and led a team of five injured and wounded veterans during the challenge.
He is also the first disabled athlete to complete the World Marathon Challenge – running seven Marathons in seven Days across seven different continents.
More people have stood on the summit of Everest than completed this mission.
Darren is also a member of the first all-disabled team to ski across Europe’s largest Ice Cap, Vatnajokull in Iceland.
The explorer admits keeping active has been a “huge part” of his life – having discovered his love for climbing and mountaineering at 16-years-old – he has met lifelong friends and been encouraged to push himself out of his comfort zone.
When Darren was 26, his life was forever changed whilst rock climbing in North Wales – a section of rock unexpectedly shifted below his feet and Darren was sent tumbling uncontrollably toward his climbing partner 100ft below.
Darren explained: “My best mate, also my climbing partner, stopped me from falling any further – he jumped on top of me – without him, this journey would have ended back then.
“Just because what happened didn’t change me as a person – I still want to push myself out of my comfort zone as I’m lucky to be here.
“Climbing is a very good analogy for life – building confidence step by step.
“If I didn’t have my accident I wouldn’t have this opportunity – just because something doesn’t go to plan, there are always things to celebrate.”
The team, made up of three currently – with one more joining soon, includes Matt Luxton, who has served in the Royal Navy as a Mine Clearance Diver since 2009 and Chris Brookes, who has served in the Army Reserve since 2013 and is a Paramedic with the Midlands Air Ambulance.
The four will be completing a training expedition at the end of March in Arctic Norway, working as a team for the first time together for the challenge December.
After lots of planning and training, the team will be dropped off on ice 333km (1092519.72 feet) away from the South Pole in December, and from there will be left on their own, to pull their own gear, food and survival kit – allowing their expedition to range from 20 to 25 days.
Darren is hoping that his South Pole Challenge will raise £300,000 for the charity Wings for Life – which seeks to find a cure for Spinal Cord Injury.
You can support Darren by visiting his website DarrenEdwardsSpeaker.com and donating at JustGiving SouthPoleChallenge2024.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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