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20 December 2010, 10:13. South Pole, all programs »

 FORMER  rugby star Richard Parks has made it to the Antarctic in the first leg of his mammoth challenge to climb the highest peaks in all seven continents and reach the three poles in seven months.  Parks left Cardiff Bay on December 12, flying to Punta Arenas in Chile for a connecting flight to Patriot Hills, Antarctica, where he began his trek to the South Pole on Thursday. On Friday he made it to the Union Glacier base camp with temperatures at minus 12, and is expected to reach the South Pole around December 27.

He will spend Christmas Day trekking in temperatures of minus 30 and head winds of up to 30 knots.

Parks will then have to camp out at the pole over the New Year, because he has to reach all nine peaks and poles in the same calendar year for his challenge to count as a world first. Parks aims to raise £1 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care with his record-breaking attempt.

After the South Pole, he will across the Antarctic to climb Mount Vinson, which stands at 4,897 metres.

The seven summits Parks will tackle over the next seven months are Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Aconcagua in Argentina, South America, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, Carstensz in Indonesia, Australasia, Mount Everest in Nepal, Asia, Denali in the USA, and Elbrus in Russia representing Europe.

The three poles are the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Everest. You can follow Parks at



The latest update from Richard in Antarctica



 Weather bad, low visibility, we can’t fly for another 2 days to 89 degrees to start. On a trial expedition for 2 nights around Union Glacier base camp. All good.



 In Union Glacier base camp. One guy has dropped out already with frostbite, now only 4 of us. Here at Union Glacier base camp its -12 but at 89 degrees south its -30 with a 30 knot plus headwind.



 We're on standby to fly today, waiting for the weather window. We have to be ready to leave in half an hour. More patience and waiting!!


I'm in a team of 4 to ski to the pole. Facts - the pole is on NZ time, GMT +13 and Union Glacier is Chile time gmt-4! The average temp in the last degree over the last week ahs been -26 degrees C and at Union Glacier it's been between -15 and -5c air temp. The pole is at around 3000m so we have to battle altitude acclimatisation when we get dropped at 89 degrees. Frostbite of the face is the highest risk as we're skiing into a head wind, which can reduce the wind chill considerably, down to the -40 region! That combined with the sticky dry snow and heavy loads is why physically it's so tough - a marathon a day!



 I've negotiated all the airports, transfers, customs, time differences, de-briefing meetings, bag weighing, breakfasts and an almost complete lack of Spanish to be here in Punta ready to fly on to Antarctica tomorrow, weather window permitting!

 I've met 2 of my 3 other team mates for the last degree, the fourth is still stuck in Santiago waiting for his lost gear! They're cool.

 I had my de-brief today which was awesome and has sharpened my mind somewhat. To be sat in a room with so many great explorers, mountaineers and scientists was really cool. I've met some old and new faces already.

 All my gear is sweet, in fact I'm 6kgs UNDER my allowed limit on to Antarctica which is refreshing in light of my lucky escape at Heathrow!

 Speak soon