Firstly I would say why not? Then secondly to give you the answer around eight years ago my love of all things polar was ignited when I read Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ autobiography, ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’. It was this account of real life adventure, ultimate survival, and testing the body to the limit in extreme circumstances that completely captured my imagination. As soon as I finished that book Arctic and Antarctic regions were firmly on my list.
In 2012 I went to a lecture by Ranulph, I was in utter awe of the experiences and adventures he had embarked upon. Afterwards my sister and I were first in the queue for book signings, and when we spoke to him and got our books signed it was as if I was a teenager meeting Harry from One Direction, I was totally star-struck and most definitely keener than ever to embark on a challenge of my own.
Growing up I wasn’t in a family of skiers and so winter sports were not on my radar at all. I did always love it when it snowed on the farm, then the sledges were well and truely out and snow angels a go go. However, it wasn’t until I went to visit my friend Clare for the weekend, who was doing a ski season in Tignes, that I had my first experience of skiing, and this is when I would most definitely compare myself to Bridget Jones. I had one lesson in the morning. The button lift was a challenging concept and I most definitely focussed my gaze on all the areas I shouldn’t, leading to a close call and suitably inelegant fall to prevent myself from careering into said lift. Clare, who hadn’t seen my ski school efforts, then slightly over-estimated my ability and took me a little higher with a steeper gradient, I mean that was fine for the 3 year olds who appeared to be born on ski’s but for me when I got off the lift, I wasn’t so sure. Unfortunately, despite it being technically a baby slope, I wasn’t prepared for such heights and the only way was down, no matter how big I made the snow plough I wasn’t stopping and successfully landed in a a heap in the orange netting at the bottom, a classic Bridget manoeuvre.
This trip did, however, cement the fact I absolutely loved this snow filled frozen environment, it felt like no other, complete escapism. I have tried skiing again briefly when I was in New Zealand and I am determined to give it another go at some point, but for now there’s no way I could undertake an adventure which needed proper skiing skills.
Ever since I read Ranulph’s book I have been investigating numerous options to achieve my dream, to work for the British Antarctic Survey was one but unfortunately there’s not much need for a Paediatric Physiotherapist, but I still take a look at their vacancies from time to time! I have looked into the trips/challenges to get to the poles and they cost upwards of £30,000, fitness of a marine, the ability to ski, and nerves of absolute steel when you are faced with an unexpected crevasse or any number of potential life threatening dangers.
I would love to think that one day I will set my foot on Antarctica, and maybe get to one of the poles but that would require winning the lottery and a level of training which at present is far beyond my capabilities. But I’d never say never, determination and intrigue can be pretty powerful things.
Eventually I came across the perfect trip for me, the right amount of physical challenge in the environment that I have long held the ambition to get to.
One Week… The Arctic Circle… Huskies… February 2015
It’s not quite the poles, but at 67° north it’s still an extreme adventure which requires a good deal of training. Take a look at Ben Fogle’s trip to the Swedish Arctic Circle, it’s a good insight into what I will be doing in February. He is in the very same region where I will be undertaking my 200km husky dog challenge. I took particular note of his falling technique, as I believe I am likely to use it often!
As I have said, this has long been an ambition of mine to do an adventure of this kind, but equally I have always wanted to do something like this in memory of my sister Abby. Unfortunately in the time since I first dreamed of such an adventure two of Abby’s friends are also no longer here with us and so I am also doing it to honour Natalia and Mandy, please take a look at The Reason for more information on why. I have fully funded this trip myself and so all funds raised go directly to Orwell Mencap Genesis. If you think it’s a worthy challenge please click the link below to sponsor me.