Into the Record Books

24th December 2013, 03:10pm

Press Release | 16:00 (London) 24th December 2013

Parker Liautaud Reaches The South Pole On Christmas Eve Becoming The Youngest Man To Ski To The South Pole

- 19-year-old Parker Liautaud arrived at the South Pole at 13:43 GMT on 24 December 2013
- New World Record: Parker becomes the youngest man to ski to the South Pole
- New Speed Record: Parker and Doug Stoup set new speed record for the fastest-ever unsupported walk from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole in 18 Days, 4 Hours and 43 Minutes

At 13:43 GMT on 24 December, The Willis Resilience Expedition, led by 19-year-old Parker Liautaud, polar explorer and climate change campaigner, arrived at the South Pole; achieving the goal of setting a new record for the fastest-ever unsupported walk from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and in the process becoming the youngest man ever to ski to the South Pole.

The world record attempt began on Friday 6 December at 09:00 GMT from the Ross Ice Shelf where Parker and Doug began their 506.12km (314.58 miles) journey to the South Pole. To achieve this incredible feat of human resilience, Parker and his expedition partner, Doug Stoup, pulled sleds weighing in excess of 80kg over ice and snow, across the Transantarctic mountain range, through blizzards and mist in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. The duo travelled for up to 12 hours a day for 19 days, averaging an astonishing 28km per day. Travelling that distance each day at altitude begins to take its toll – at times Parker and Doug have had to battle on, despite suffering from physical exhaustion which can clearly be seen in this short video diary that Parker made for the expedition.

Not only has the world record attempt been achieved, but thanks to the embedded communications technologies in Ice Broker, the Willis Resilience Expedition’s custom built Toyota Hilux 6-wheel truck, the venture was broadcast live to the world on the expedition website www.willsresilience.com. This also meant that Parker was able to capture the imagination of the world’s media, by engaging in two-way live broadcast interviews with major news channels, directly from Antarctica.

Parker will now spend the next few days in the South Pole before travelling back to Union Glacier where the team can catch a flight out of Antarctic back to Punta Arenas, Chile. While in the South Pole, Parker will be able to wish the world Happy Christmas, live on TV.

“It’s an incredible honour to stand at the South Pole after a successful expedition. Over the past several weeks I have learned a lot and am very thankful for the support of the team around me that made this expedition possible. I now hope to work with our scientific partners in the next phase of the research from this expedition and continue to contribute to reigniting the dialogue on climate change.”

Parker Liautaud
Willis Resilience Expedition Leader

“I’m proud to stand next to Parker at the Geographic South Pole after just over 18 days of skiing across Antarctica unsupported. I’m also proud to be here as an ambassador for climate change. Parker showed remarkable resilience throughout this expedition. He is an inspiration for his generation.”

Doug Stoup
Willis Resilience Expedition Guide

Before starting their World Record breaking journey by foot, Parker, Doug and the occupants of Ice Broker; the driver and mechanic Eyjofur Teitsson, cinematographer Paddy Scott and communications director Nathan Hambrook-Skinner first had to reach the elusive starting point for the walk, the Ross Ice Shelf on the edge of Antarctica. To get to the Ross Ice Shelf, the team travelled in Ice Broker a total of 1,790km from Union Glacier to the South Pole down to the Ross Ice Shelf in order to undertake a coast-to-pole-to-coast transect of Antarctica.

During that bumpy crossing of the Antarctic continent over vast fields of sastrugi, or ice waves, the team were collecting snow samples for three scientific research programs, all of which aim to collect valuable data to contribute to our understanding of global climate patterns. One of the team’s first jobs on the ice was to deploy the ColdFacts 3000BX, a lightweight weather station which has not been used before in Antarctica. The device has been relaying metrological data every 30 minutes. Along the way the team was also collecting snow samples for research purposes. Ice Broker was instrumental in providing the tools necessary to conduct and store the research samples.

As Parker finds the time to reflect on his amazing achievement we hope that those who were able to follow his journey have also had time to think about the bigger message

“Christmas is often a time for reflection. Over the past 18 days, we have watched this truly inspirational young man along with his expedition partner, Doug show us all the true meaning of resilience – both mental and physical. For the first time ever thanks to the technology on board Ice Broker, the Willis Resilience Expedition truck, we have been able to share with the world the highs and lows of this incredible journey via live transmissions on the Willis Resilience website. As Parker finds the time to reflect on his amazing achievement we hope that those who were able to follow his journey have also had time to think about the bigger message. Parker set out to not only achieve a new World Record but he also wanted to create a platform to start changing the way we talk about climate change. The conversation will continue via www.willisresilience.com.”

Josh King
Chief Communications Officer
Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH)

 

* NB: The total distance forecast that Parker and Doug would have to ski for the Coast to Pole record attempt from Leverett Glacier was estimated to be 640km. This forecast was based upon all information available to the expedition team prior to departure. The distance of 506.27km stated in the release above was captured by the Yellowbrick tracking unit located on Parker’s sled for the duration of the record attempt. 506.27km represents the straight line distance South to the Pole from the start point at Leverett Glacier. The total distance skiied on the route taken by Parker and Doug has subsequently been measured and confirmed as 565.3km. The average daily distance skiied by the team can therefore be put at 29.8km.

The full release distributed to media can be found here.