LONDON, Dec. 24, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 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.
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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 trans-Antarctic 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.willisresilience.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 Eyjo Furteitsson, 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.
"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)
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Notes to Editors
Live interviews from the South Pole are still available upon request, but spaces are limited. Please contact Captive Minds in order to book a slot as soon as possible.
About Willis: Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 17,500 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world's leading authorities on analytics, modeling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our website, www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.
The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.
Willis Group Holdings
London, UNITED KINGDOM
Expedition Reaches The South Pole
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