5 min with Richard

Your Name and Where do you Live

My name is Rich and I live in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand. I grew up in Yorkshire but moved to New Zealand 10yrs ago to make my home amongst the wild mountains and forests of this amazing country.

When did you start exploring

I remember being taken for walks across the bleak and desolate high moorlands of North Yorkshire by my Dad as a kid. He taught me the basics of navigation, what gear and food to take out in the hills and how to stay safe in the wild weather that would lash the moorland. I think this instilled a sense of being dependent on your own skills and the equipment you carry with you when you’re out in the wild, something that lead in turn to wanting to push those boundaries and skills out into more and more wild and remote landscapes.

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

I still remember my first night out in a tent on the moors with my Dad. The sense of being cosy and safe whilst outside in the darkness the inhospitable wilderness, devoid of human life stretched to infinity was so exciting! To this day I could still take you to the exact spot we pitched the tent and it’s actually only a few hundred meters from the track and about 2km from a pub but hey, when I was 10 it felt incredibly adventurous!

What does Adventure mean to you.

For me adventure is all about the unknown. It is about not being quite sure how things are going to pan out, accepting and embracing that risk, leaning into it and enjoying the uncertainty. Perhaps it’s why I’m an Emergency doctor, I like not quite knowing what’s going to happen, having to adapt and problem solve to face unexpected challenges.

Why polar regions

The polar regions are the ultimate expression of both wilderness and natural beauty. They represent the most remote, uninhabited and inhospitable of natural environments where the extreme conditions have a raw and elemental relationship with human intrusion into the polar world. Perhaps because of this, they also embody as pristine and unpolluted natural environment as any on Earth with incredible landscapes and wildlife.

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

Packrafting the Skjalfandafljot river was a fantastic opportunity to explore the deep interior of Iceland. A bleakly beautiful landscape with a unique combination of vast icecaps spilling down through their retaining mountain valleys, fields of razor-sharp lava rock and active volcanoes. It is an inhospitable place that is very difficult to travel through and paddling the Skjalfandafljot allowed us to experience it and really understand the landscape in a unique way.

What does Curiosity mean to you.

Curiosity is that desire to see what is around the next corner, to go to places we know little about and try to understand the unknown. It is an incredibly important driving force and fundamental to what makes us human.

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

Antarctica is the epitome of all things I’ve talk about so far; it is the most remote, the coldest, the highest, the windiest, the driest and the least inhabited of all the continents. It’s shear scale is mind-boggling and to really experience true wilderness there is no better place. Skiing unsupported from coast to coast is the purest form of experiencing Antarctica’s wilderness. Being completely dependent on our skills, our gear, our determination and each other to survive is incredibly liberating and powerful.

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.