With one foot in the real world and another in Middle Earth, Westeros and sometimes even Westworld, I love nothing more than a good fantasy-fiction story. It provides an escape from the mundane and also a host of characters to form lifelong connections with.
Another form of escape that I quite enjoy is travelling and writing about it. The stories of people and places, when presented with an individual's unique perspective, can make quite an impact on the readers.
Latest posts by Shuchita Joshi (see all)
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The teen adventurer set out on December 2, 2013 – only a couple of weeks after celebrating his 16th birthday – and reached the South Pole on January 18, 2014. Clarke took the Hercules Inlet route, a distance of some 1100 km (about 700 miles), skiing for eight hours and covering roughly 29km (18 miles) every day. Clarke, who had to tow a sled of supplies over the duration of the trek, was accompanied by polar explorer Carl Alvey.
There were challenges aplenty: Clarke had to combat temperatures as low as -50C and wind speeds of up to 120mph, as well as a broken ski and blisters – but if this hardy young man was flustered over the 48-day hike, he didn’t admit it. “I knew it would be hard, but it’s harder than I ever thought it would be.
“I think sometimes about how few people have done this. Only 300 in 100 years. And I’m doing it. That’s pretty cool.” Clarke reached the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on the evening of January 18 (a Saturday), beating the mark of Canada’s Sarah Landry (who was 18), set a decade ago, in 2004.
Clarke’s preparations for the trek began a year back, when he headed to Norway for polar training. But the expedition had been in the planning for three years – clearly, this impressive young Englishman was determined to follow in the footsteps of his legendary countrymen, Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a storied explorer himself, described Clarke’s Antarctic journey a “great achievement”. The student now returns home to a more humdrum challenge – school exams. Keep an ear out for Lewis Clarke – you’re likely to be hearing more of him in the future.
He received a warm welcome on returning home.