5 min with Gareth

Your Name and Where do you Live

My name is Gareth and I live between the UK and Australia. I have been living in Cardiff for the last year and will soon be moving back to Sydney.

When did you start exploring

I was born on the Isle of Mull during one of the coldest Scottish Winters on record; a year when the sea outside our home in Bunessan froze solid. Mum has always said that it was a sign of things come. My earliest memories are of fishing the hill lochs with Dad on Mull. I was maybe five or six, fishing rod in hand, canvas tackle bag over my shoulder, scampering through the bracken up a mountainside trying to keep up. They are some of my happiest memories.

What was your first memory of sleeping in a tent or sleeping bag outdoors.

My parents instilled a sense of adventure in me from an early age. Every holiday would be spent in a campervan or a tent next to a beach or in the mountains. My first memory is being wrapped up in my blue down sleeping bag in our tent in the Pyrenees in a huge storm. Heavy rain and wind lashed the tent, thunder and lightning all around. I loved it!

What does Adventure mean to you.

Adventure is a state of mind. It’s not just dragging heavy stuff a really long way in really cold places. It’s climbing a tree, swimming in a wild river, surfing a new break. It’s the way we view the world and our place in it.

Why polar regions

The polar regions are wild and dangerous, empty and stunningly beautiful – the true essence of adventure. Immersing yourself in the polar world is both an immense privilege and a chance to test your mettle in the Earth’s most inhospitable environment.

What made you want to complete a world first decent of a river in Iceland.

Packrafting the Skjalfandafljot river in Iceland was a chance to enter the unknown and to attempt something never previously achieved. It was an expedition that held the elements of everything we love; mountains, glaciers, ice caps and wild rivers. The crossing of the Vatnajokull alone was a very special experience. Passing the Grimsvotn volcano and smelling the acrid sulphur of the Skaftakatla before dropping down into the Vonasgard in search of the source of our river was incredible.

What does Curiosity mean to you.

Curiosity to me is our natural sense of wonder, our innate need to question and explore.

Why Antarctica, what’s drawing you to it, why do you want to complete this crossing.

Antarctica is the most wild and desolate, dangerous and stunningly beautiful environment on the planet. It has fired my imagination since I was very young. To ski across Antarctica unsupported is the purist form of adventure, it is one of the greatest journeys on earth; nothing to rely on except yourself, the person standing next to you and the contents of your sled. Rich and I love just being in the polar environment and to be able to spend 4 months travelling across Antarctica is a huge privilege.

What does The Last Great First mean to you

Shackleton called the crossing of Antarctica ‘the last great adventure in the history of South Polar exploration’. This is the last great journey from the Golden Age of polar exploration.

The Last Great First will attempt to redress what history has not yet relinquished – a full unsupported coast to coast ski crossing of Antarctica.