- 19-year-old Parker Liautaud left the Ross Ice Shelf at 8:30am GMT on Friday, 6 December 2013, in an attempt to set a new World Record for the fastest-ever walk from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole
- Watch the journey unfold at www.willisresilience.com
- Live visual broadcast interviews available upon request
LONDON, Dec. 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After 12 days of battling the elements in the most remote and unforgiving place on earth, 19-year-old explorer Parker Liautaud and his expedition partner, Doug Stoup, have comfortably moved well past the halfway point of the Willis Resilience Expedition. The duo only have 214 km (116 miles) left to cover on their quest to set a new world record for the fastest-ever unsupported walk from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica to the South Pole. Averaging an impressive 28 km (15.5 nautical miles) a day, they are expected to reach their goal within their 22-day target. On reaching the South Pole, it will crown Parker as the youngest person to reach both the North and South Poles on foot.
Despite the extreme weather conditions, ranging from howling gales to snow storms and temperatures down to -50 degrees Celsius, Parker and Doug are making good progress and are on course for setting a new world record.
"We started off with great conditions but it soon started to snow and we had a complete whiteout. This was very, very difficult to navigate, with high winds between 10 and 30 knots. Every day presents a new challenge and we are having to work hard as a team to make the daily distance required to reach the South Pole in our predicted time frame of 22 days."
-Parker Liautaud, Willis Resilience Expedition Leader
Parker and Doug are each pulling an 80 kg sled containing all the food and supplies needed to survive on their unsupported journey, as they are not allowed any help from external sources. However, they are being trailed every step of the way by a 2.6 ton custom designed 6x6 Toyota Hilux truck, Ice Broker, which transmits, live video, telemetry, data and biometrics via satellite to the expedition Website, www.willisresilience.com. This is revolutionary in the world of polar exploration.
Ice Broker itself has taken a real beating as it has travelled from coast to pole to coast, covering over 1,800 km (1,118 mi) while avoiding crevasses, deep snow and minor fuel leaks. Expedition driver, Eyjo Furteitsson, noted that for him, the hardest part of the expedition was over, but for Parker the hardest part was upon him.
There was a long period of time on day 4, December 9, when Parker and Doug were separated from Ice Broker as they wound their way through the treacherous Trans Antarctic mountain range. Parker himself reported that they had climbed a total of 427 m (1,400 ft) in one day as they reached a height of 2.6 km (8,600 ft). This was after the pair had already reached the top of the Leveritt Glacier the day before, which stands at 2.1 km (7,200 ft).
"I can't imagine or come close to properly expressing the kind of physical pain that Parker must be experiencing after 12 or more hours of skiing across rock solid snow and ice, tugging an immense pulk every day. I can attest to the resilience that he is displaying in abundance everyday."
-Nathan Hambrook-Skinner, Willis Resilience Communications Director
From the daily updates that Parker dispatches to the expedition HQ, it is evident that he is in high spirits and enjoying himself despite a few aches and pains, and is confident that he will reach the South Pole in record time.
For day-by-day accounts of the expedition, and to read Nathan's blog updates from Antarctica, please visit www.willisresilience.com/news/
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Notes to Editors
About Willis: Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE:WSH) 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, modelling 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.
An unsupported expedition: The Willis Resilience Expedition has a vehicle tracking the explorers to provide round the clock footage and imagery along the way. However, the team in the truck will not carry any equipment nor provide any support to Parker along the way.
Source: Willis Group Holdings