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ExWeb interview with Lewis Clarke (16): to ski 1130 km Hercules Inlet route

Posted: Nov 15, 2013 08:59 am EST



(By Correne Coetzer) Earlier this week ExplorersWeb talked to 19-year-old Aussie, Chris Hayward, who is on his way to attempt a first kayak descent of Australia’s longest river, the Murray. He said he has future plans to become the youngest solo skier to the South Pole. 


During the present Antarctica season, two British teenagers will be attempting to ski from coastal start points to the South Pole (90ºS); 16-year-old Lewis Clarke and 19-year-old Parker Liautaud.


Lewis will be guided by ANI guide, Carl Alvey (30 years old). Their start point is Hercules Inlet, which is at 80ºS, 1130km in a straight line from the Pole. The two Brits will be resupplied.


Parker (UK) will be guided by American Doug Stoup (50) and will have a custom built car/truck driving along, carrying their communications equipment. Their support team member in the car is Eyjólfur Már Teitsson from Iceland. The team’s start point is at the Leverett Glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf and calculates a distance of 510 km in a straight line as per Felicity Aston’s start point, the only other person who has done this route.


ExplorersWeb caught up with Lewis Clarke at home in Bristol, via cyber space. Already at age 12, Lewis proofed himself as a cold water swimmer and tells how he combines school work and sport. 


ExplorersWeb: How did it come that you got this idea to ski to the South Pole? Any of your family/friends into polar adventures?


Lewis: My background is as a swimmer, particularly cold water. In 2010 I was part of the youngest ever relay team to swim across the English Channel; we were all 12 years old. 


One of our great supporters and adventure enthusiast was Jon Bradshaw, who just so happened to have been part of the first all Irish team to the South Pole (2008). During our many sea training swim sessions he told me stories about his Antarctic adventures and the rest, as they say, is history…


ExplorersWeb: What did your training / preparation program look like? How did you fit it in between going to school and doing homework?


Lewis: I’m pretty fit anyway, usually swimming and competing with my club 4 times a week plus playing and training for rugby.  I’ve been in training specifically for the Pole for about 18 months.  My local gym, BS7, took me on and have given me personal training and gym work.  Otherwise I’ve pretty much followed ALE’s training programme, with lots and lots of tyre pulling!


Swimming requires huge dedication in terms of training and I have been competing since I was eight, so for me fitting in fitness training around school work is just normal. My school, QEH in Bristol, has also been very understanding giving me time to train in Norway and Greenland.  


I enjoy maths and took the GCSE a year early this year and was fortunate enough to get an A* so my school is relaxed because they know that I can manage both school work and training.  


I have broken my arm twice and my sternum once playing rugby so unfortunately I have not been able to play rugby  this season as the risk of me breaking something was too great!  I have really missed my team.


ExplorersWeb: Three top tips from your guide, Carl?


Lewis: 1] Mugs must be massive and have flat bottoms (I will never be forgiven if it tips over in the tent!)

2] Sleep naked! Or at least with as few layers as possible, its warmer that way.

3] Put on weight by eating pork pies! 


ExplorersWeb: You will probably bring an iPod? What will you listen to? Or read on the trip?


Lewis: I will be listening to – Audiobooks, such as the Hunger Games series and Game of Thrones audiobooks. Music such as: Muse, One Republic, Linkin Park, Two Steps from Hell and Flight of the Conchords, plus lots of others.


I will be reading – The Smartest Guys in the Room (about the collapse of Enron), The Master and Margarita (about the Devil arriving in Moscow), 11.22.63 (about the Kennedy assassination, it’s also the 50th anniversary of his assassination a day before we’re scheduled to set off, so a topical choice as well!), 1356 (about one of England’s wars with France) and The Fellowship of the Ring (1st Lord of the Rings book).    


My mum has kindly (ha ha!) bought me some GCSE German revision CDs, so I guess they will be coming along too!  I have my GCSE mocks when I get back in February 2014, so a bit of revision wouldn’t go a miss, I suppose.


Home town:  Bristol, England

School: Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, QEH for short, Bristol

Favorite subject(s): Maths and History

Other sport: Swimming (pool and open water); rugby


Top 3 adventures:

1] Greenland (In preparation for the South Pole) 

2] World Record Youngest Relay Team to swim across English Channel 2010

3] Alaska 2011


Date of birth: November 18, 1997.


In the 2004-05 season, siblings Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry became the youngest person/female (Sarah) and male (Eric) to ski from a coastal start point to the Geographic South Pole. Sarah was 18 and Eric was 20. They skied with their mother Matty McNair, and friends Hillary and Conrad Dickinson, from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. The team pulled all their supplies needed for the 51 days to get to the Pole in their sleds. At the SP they picked up a supply of kites, food and fuel and kite-skied back to Hercules Inlet; completing a distance of 2260 km in 69 days.




Novo kite-skiers on Antarctica - Updated


South Pole 2013-14: Doug Stoup and Parker Liautaud for Leverett Glacier route


Heads up: Chris Hayward, 19, for Sea to Source to Summit


Lewis Clarke’s blog (which can be followed in the live stream on ExplorersWeb and the Pythom App)


Lewis’ training in Norway and Greenland 


#polar #lewisclarke #carlalvey #southpole2013 #southpole2013-14 #antarctica #herculesinlet







Lewis Clarke: “Swimming requires huge dedication in terms of training and I have been competing since I was eight, so for me fitting in fitness training around school work is just normal.”
Being an A* student, Lewis’ school “is relaxed because they know that I can manage both school work and training”, says Lewis. His mum though, made sure that he will do some German revision on the ice.
Lewis’ training program: lots of tyre pulling, swimming, rugby practice and gym work, as well as training in Noway and skiing in Greenland.
Training with guide, Carl Alvey, and a group in Greenland earlier this year.
“During our many sea training swim sessions [Jon Bradshaw] told me stories about his Antarctic adventures and the rest, as they say, is history…”
The Hercules Inlet route